Federer Squeaks By Again

The days of unfettered progress -- or is than un-Federered? -- through a Grand Slam event draw seem to have come to a halt for top-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland.

He needed five sets to subdue Tommy Haas of Germany in the fourth round, and required some luck and an opponent's wavering nerve to navigate through a troubled quarterfinal. Federer saved six set points in the third set against No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, winning 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5), in 3 hours 13 minutes on Wednesday at the Australian Open.

Davydenko held leads of 4-1 and 6-3 in the third-set tiebreaker, and Federer called himself "a little lucky" to emerge from that deficit.

"You haven't seen me scrambling too much, especially back-to-back matches," Federer said. "For some, it might be a surprise."

Which is why he was looking ahead, predicting a potentially difficult semifinal against Nicolas Kiefer of Germany. Kiefer has defeated Federer three times in 10 meetings, but Federer has won the last six.

"If you look down the results I've had with Davydenko, many of them have been tough. Same thing with Haas. So this for me is no surprise.

"Maybe it is for you. I'm not surprised. Don't be surprised if it's going to be tough again on Friday, because I've had some tough matches with Kiefer. He's beaten me a couple of times, so I'm ready for a tough one at least."


-- Lisa Dillman

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