Originally created 07/06/06

Federer stellar in moving on



WIMBLEDON, England - The last man to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon became the latest to lose against him Wednesday.

With a performance that was stellar even by his standards, Federer avenged a loss to Mario Ancic on the same Centre Court four years ago, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his ninth consecutive Grand Slam semifinal.

"It was difficult, knowing he was the last guy to beat me here," Federer said. "I remember I was very sad after that match."

He was joined in the final four by two improbable semifinalists: Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.

The 34-year-old Bjorkman became the oldest man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Jimmy Connors in 1987, beating Radek Stepanek 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4. Baghdatis, who won a tour-level match on grass for the first time in June, beat 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Ancic was an 18-year-old qualifier making his Grand Slam debut when he defeated Federer in the first round in 2002. Federer has since won the past three Wimbledon championships and 46 consecutive grass-court matches, and he needs two more victories for his eighth major title.

"I thought I played a terrific match," Federer said. "If I keep up this type of play, it'll be pretty good."

Only two rain delays - the first since the opening day of the tournament - slowed the progress of Federer, who has yet to lose a set through five rounds. His opponent Friday will be the unseeded Bjorkman, who lost his only other Grand Slam semifinal nine years ago at the U.S. Open.

"I'm very emotional here - I just realized that I won," Bjorkman said moments after his match. "I didn't really believe that I had any semifinals left in me. It's an unbelievable feeling, a big surprise ... a lot of Advil the last couple of weeks."

Baghdatis hit 53 winners and converted all seven of his break-point chances to beat Hewitt. The only Cypriot to play in a major event, Baghdatis was the Australian Open runner-up to Federer in January and has climbed from 56th to 16th in the rankings this year.

"It's amazing," Baghdatis said. "It's just unbelievable emotions. I hope I'll keep going and feel those emotions again like Australia, and maybe even more."

He'll next play French Open champion Rafael Nadal or No. 22 Jarkko Nieminen. Their quarterfinal was postponed until today because of fading light.

There was plenty of tennis on Court 2, where Daniel Nestor and Mark Knowles beat Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 23-21 over two days. At 6 hours, 9 minutes, it was longest doubles match in Grand Slam history and the longest match in Wimbledon history, singles or doubles.

In the women's semifinals today, 2004 champion Maria Sharapova will play No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, and No. 2 Kim Clijsters will face No. 3 Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Before the seventh game of Federer's match, two fully clothed men came onto the court carrying rackets and balls. One of them hit a shot before security guards approached, and the men departed as a smiling Federer watched.