In promises to be a strong weekend of tennis with three of the top four ranked players all in action.
In Basel, three-time defending champion and World No. 1 Roger Federer meets countryman Marco Chiudinelli in the first all-Swiss semi-final on the ATP circuit since 1995 (Jakob Hlasek defeated Marc Rosset in Gstaad). The match-up marks the first time two Swiss players have reached the Basel semis in the same year since 2006 when Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka were in opposite ends of the draw.
“It is very special (on the main court in Basel),” said Federer. “I used to be a ball boy here and I have so many great memories from this place. It’s really been an amazing tournament for me and obviously I love coming back here. I’ve been on this great run now with so many wins in a row; it’s very nice for me.
In the earlier semifinal, No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic, winner of three titles in 2009, is attempting to reach his ninth final of the year when he faces No. 5 seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, a two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year.
“I had a great match against him at the US Open, but it’s totally different conditions now,” said Djokovic of the Czech. “We’ve had a lot of matches, we know each other’s games quite well. Radek is a player who plays with a lot of talent, a lot of feel. He’s had a couple of great wins this tournament so it’s going to be a tough one.”
Federer, the only player remaining yet to lose a set this week and winner of four titles in 2009, is trying to reach his seventh final of the season, while Chiudinelli is through to his first career ATP World Tour semi-final. Djokovic is attempting to win his 70th match of the season (69-18), tops on the ATP.
The remaining field in Valencia is also top class with three of the Top 4 seeds plus a familiar unseeded name completing the semifinals. All four players have reached at least three ATP finals this year. Second seed Nikolay Davydenko will face unseeded Mikhail Youzhny, who has already made it past a pair of seeds this week, No. 3 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 5 Gilles Simon. Davydenko is 3-1 against Youzhny but the underdog did win their most recent meeting between the two Russians at last year’s Australian Open.
Top seed Andy Murray will face No. 4 seed Fernando Verdasco and the Scot is 6-1 lifetime against the Spaniard. Verdasco recorded his only win in their head-to-head series at the Australian Open earlier this year. Davydenko and Verdasco hope to boost their chances of taking the last two berths in the eight-man, year-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, which begins November 22. Both players have not dropped a set so far this week.
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