MIAMI, (Reuters) – World number two Roger Federer defeated American Andy Roddick 6-3 4-6 6-4 in front of a noisy night-time crowd at Key Biscayne on Wednesday to set up a semi-final with Serbian Novak Djokovic at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Third seed Djokovic produced sparkling tennis to beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-4 but will now have a major test in his bid to reach the final.
Roddick, cheered on by a partisan crowd, struggled against Federer’s first serve in the first set and was broken twice. The second set was a different story, though, after Federer double-faulted on break point for a 4-3 lead.
The American served for the set at 5-4 and Federer had a chance to break but in the end a long return on a serve secured Roddick a third set.
In a tight deciding set, dominated by serve with the first four games won to love, a stroke of luck set up Federer for the match point.
Roddick, who had Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter screaming encouragement from the stands, was a one point away from squaring the match at 5-5 but Federer’s backhand pass attempt clipped the net and looped over the forlorn American.
A smart backhand pass then gave Federer a 17th win in 19 meetings with Roddick.
“I should have had it under control in the second set,” said Federer. “I lost that and was under quite a bit of pressure in the third set. So I’m happy I got through it.
“I got maybe a touch lucky at that deuce passing shot. But, I mean, I hit it well and came up with a great shot and match point,” he added.
The 13-time Grand Slam winner will have to be on top of his game again today as his opponent Djokovic is showing signs of a real return to top form.
Delivering dashing groundstrokes and generating plenty of spin on his second serves, the Serb was on top throughout.
Tsonga had a chance to extend the second set but failed to convert two break points at 5-4 and in the end Djokovic wrapped up victory with an emphatic smash which brought roars from noisy Serbian supporters.
Djokovic said there was no mystery ahead of him in Friday’s semi-final.
“With Roger, there’s not much to say about him. He’s so consistent in the major events. He’s been so dominant the last couple of years. It is going to be a tough, tough encounter”.