Djokovic, Federer reach U.S. Open semifinalsi

FLUSHING, NEW YORK (TICKER) Novak Djokovic held off a challenge by Andy Roddick in a quartefinal match at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

The third-seeded Djokovic disposed of the sixth-seeded American, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5)after cruising through the first two sets to gain a berth in the semifinals.

Roddick battled valiantly to take the third set and pushed the fourth to a tiebreaker. Roddick had a chance to earn a set point at 5-5 in the tiebreak but missed with a drop shot. Djokovic then finished the match on his serve when Roddick’s return was long.

“I’m really happy, playing against Roddick on these courts,” Djokovic said. “It took a huge effort.”

The crowd turned on Djokovic when he spoke of Roddick’s comments on the third seed’s injuries.

“Andy was saying I have 16 injuries in my last match,” Djokovic said, igniting the crowd. “Obviously I don’t.

“I know they’re already against me because they think I’m faking everything. That’s not nice, anyhow, to say I have 16 injuries and I’m faking it.”

The boos grew. However, later, Djokovic apologized, saying he overreacted.

“I exaggerated and I reacted bad in that moment,” he said. “I apologize if I reacted like that. It was just impulsive. I had a lot of emotions in the last two days.”

Up next for Djokovic is second-seeded Roger Federer, who earlier continued his impressive streak of reaching Grand Slam semifinals. However, the bigger story was his struggles against a qualifier.

Federer advanced to his 18th consecutive semifinal in a Grand Slam but had his hands full in a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the quarterfinals.

“I’m happy I won first of all,” Federer said. “After a tough match I had last time, it’s nice to get through straight (sets). This was a tough opponent who has been playing very well this tournament and showed why he was so dangerous today.”

Although he could only manage one break of serve against the 130th player in the world, the Swiss star kept alive his bid for a fifth consecutive title at the U.S. Open, winning his 32nd consecutive match at Flushing Meadows.

“I’m happy to keep sort of the semifinal streak alive,” Federer said. “That’s a huge streak for such a long time. I played well this tournament, so I’m really happy to keep it alive and give myself an opportunity to be in the final four.

“I hope this time around, I can take it a step further than I did in Paris or Wimbledon.”

Despite winning in straight sets, Federer was overshadowed statistically by Muller, who finished with more aces (16 to 7) and winners (46 to 42) than the world No. 2.

However, Muller also committed 32 unforced errors to Federer’s 19.

The leader for most aces in the men’s draw with 128, Muller matched Federer hold for hold in the first set.

“He served great, takes big chances from the baseline and wasn’t a whole lot of rhythm out there,” Federer said of his opponent. “It made it just more difficult with the wind and the sun today. I’m very happy with this result.”

In the tiebreak, the Swiss star grabbed a 4-1 lead before Muller came back, leveling it at 5-5 before Federer pulled it out.

In the second set, Federer secured the decisive break in the ninth game before serving out the set. Both players then held serve in the third before Muller grabbed a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker.

Poised to force a fourth set, Muller struggled with unforced errors, hitting a forehand into the net to give Federer the match.

Federer has won six of eight matches against Djokovic.

“I’ve played Andy here in the past and Novak, so there’s really no surprises between the two of us,” Federer said.

Federer hinted that it would be tough to play Djokovic but, in the end, remained diplomatic.

“Whereas Novak, he’s been the best hardcourt player this season but he’s been very good and that’s why either one it’s going to be really difficult,” the Swiss star said. “So, I don’t know what it’s going to come down to.”

Updated Friday, Sep 5, 2008