Nadal wins again, reaches semis |

Nadal wins again, reaches semis

Chris Lehourites
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Spain's Rafael Nadal returns to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, during their Men's Singles quarter final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Friday July 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

WIMBLEDON, England ” Rafael Nadal was back to his best Friday, playing at Wimbledon for the fifth consecutive day and reaching the semifinals by beating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal, last year’s runner-up, was broken once early in the first set, but never faced any serious challenges after that. He broke the Czech in the opening games of the second and third sets.

Nadal had his first match point on Berdych’s serve at 5-1 in the third set, but the Czech erased it with an ace. Nadal wasted another in the next game, but won when Berdych sent a forehand into the net.

“I had to concentrate with the movement because the ball was very difficult to touch,” Nadal said. “Today was very tough with the wind, but anyway I played very good.”

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The second-seeded Spaniard was stretched to five sets in the previous two rounds, with the former being played over a span of three days at the All England Club. If he wins Saturday’s semifinal against Novak Djokovic or Marcos Baghdatis, then Sunday’s final would mark Nadal’s seventh consecutive day on court.

Later Friday, four-time defending champion Roger Federer was to resume his quarterfinal match against No. 20 Juan Carlos Ferrero. The two played for 37 minutes Thursday before rain suspended play at deuce at 5-5 in the first set.

No. 3 Andy Roddick was also scheduled to play No. 12 Richard Gasquet, and No. 4 Djokovic was facing No. 10 Baghdatis.

In the women’s semifinals, No. 1 Justine Henin was scheduled to take on No. 18 Marion Bartoli, and No. 6 Ana Ivanovic was to play No. 23 Venus Williams.

Nadal, who lost to Federer in last year’s final, is trying to become the first man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year since Bjorn Borg in 1980. The Spaniard has won the last three titles at Roland Garros.

Berdych was playing in the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam for the first time. He won the grass-court warm-up tournament in Halle, Germany, in the absence of Federer, but struggled Friday with several bad hops. In the final game, a serve from Nadal took another awkward bounce that went toward his body.

Rain on nine of the first 10 days of the tournament created a huge backlog in the schedule, forcing many of the remaining men and women to play on consecutive days.

Federer avoided the worst of the rain early this week, wrapping up his third-round match on Friday and skipping the fourth round because Tommy Haas withdrew with an injury.

Williams again played outstanding tennis Thursday to reach the women’s semifinals, beating No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4. Williams, a three-time champion at the All England Club, has been dominating on her serve in the last two rounds.

“Obviously, my serve is such a weapon for me,” said Williams, who struggled briefly while serving for the match. “I started rushing too much. I didn’t take my time. That doesn’t work.”

Williams started the season with a wrist injury and is not even ranked in the top 30. She struggled early in the tournament, coming within two points of defeat against 59th-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva in the first round and trailing 5-3 in the third set against 71st-ranked Akiko Morigami in the third round.

Ivanovic, a French Open finalist, saved three match points before beating No. 14 Nicole Vaidisova 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. The Serb won the last four games and won when Vaidisova double-faulted for the sixth time.

“I knew I could do it,” Ivanovic said. “I knew I could make some good shots and be aggressive and move forward and put pressure.”

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