HAMBURG, Germany -- Top-ranked Roger Federer beat Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-3 Friday, defeating one of the best clay-court players to reach the semifinals of the Hamburg Masters.
Federer, who won in Hamburg two years ago, kept Moya on the defensive in this important tuneup for the French Open. The Swiss star has won all four of their matches but this was their first on clay.
"It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament," Federer said.
Federer next faces Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Austria's Juergen Melzer 6-4, 6-3. Hewitt, an Aussie who has won two titles this year, holds a 7-3 career record against Federer but they have never met on clay.
"Neither of us plays a traditional clay-court game," Hewitt said. "It's a good chance to see where my game stands."
Defending champion Guillermo Coria of Argentina, seeded second, cruised into the semifinals by beating David Ferrer of Spain 6-2, 6-2. Coria will play Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, who had 12 aces in downing Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Coria has not lost on clay since last year's French Open semifinals, a total of 30 matches. He's 15-0 on clay this year, with titles in Buenos Aires and Monte Carlo.
Federer and Moya have won three titles this year. Federer, who captured the Australian Open, is 30-3. Moya, who won last week's Italian Open, is 24-5 and has the most wins on clay.
"He can do anything with the ball. His serve is not very fast but it's hard to read," said Moya, who was extended to three sets a day earlier. "He plays very well whatever the surface and I didn't play my best. My legs were not as fresh today."
The $2.9 million Hamburg event is the fifth of nine Masters Series tournaments, one tier below the Grand Slams.
Federer, who won Wimbledon last year, gave himself a big boost before the French Open, which begins May 24. Moya won the French in 1998 and is among the favorites this year.
"It's a good test for the French Open, but that's not the way I see it because Hamburg is too important to be considered just a test," Federer said.
After winning his first three service games at love, Federer broke Moya to win the first set.
"I had a break point at the start of the second, and had I used it maybe I would have gotten back into the match," Moya said.
Instead, Federer capitalized on a double-fault to lead 3-0 and won the match when Moya hit a forehand wide.
"I converted break points very well, and it was important not to let him take the lead at the start of the second," Federer said.
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