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Nadal stops Federer, Fish out in semifinals

Rafael Nadal returns during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Roger Federer, who struggled with Nadal’s groundstrokes, committed 31 unforced errors and got irritated at questions afterward.

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Rafael Nadal returns during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Roger Federer, who struggled with Nadal’s groundstrokes, committed 31 unforced errors and got irritated at questions afterward.

KEY BISCAYNE — Rafael Nadal advanced to the final at the Sony Ericsson Open by beating rival Roger Federer 6-3, 6-2 on Friday.

The No. 1-ranked Nadal held every service game and converted five of six break-point chances. Nadal, seeking his first Key Biscayne title, has held in 47 of 48 service games in the tournament.

"It wasn't easy for him," Nadal said. "I played a very, very good match, very solid and serious."

Nadal's opponent Sunday (1 p.m., Ch. 10) will be No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who beat Tampa resident Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-1.

Nadal is 16-8 against Djokovic but lost when they met in the final at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

"I don't feel invincible," Djokovic said. "I don't feel that I can't lose on the court. What I feel is big confidence. What I feel is that I'm playing best tennis of my life."

"I didn't win any of the big points," said Fish, 0-for-6 on break points. "I left a lot of shots out there."

Djokovic also is dominating long rallies, another reason he has lost only 18 games in five rounds. He has won three titles this year, going 23-0 in the best start since Ivan Lendl was 25-0 in 1986.

"He's moving better than anyone right now, no doubt about it, on a hardcourt," Fish said.

Nadal vs. Federer generated the buzz of a final, with tickets shortly before the match fetching several hundred dollars. But Federer came out flat, committing four unforced errors to lose serve and fall behind 2-1.

That was part of a stretch in which Nadal won 13 of 15 points to take control.

Federer had trouble with the velocity of Nadal's groundstrokes, shanking half a dozen shots, including one to reach match point. Then Federer put a tentative forehand in the net, and it was over after 75 minutes.

Federer shanked several shots and committed 31 unforced errors to 10 for Nadal.

Nadal improved to 15-8 against Federer, who is 0-4 this year against Nadal and Djokovic and 22-0 against everyone else.

Federer bristled when asked if proving he's still a champion is a hassle.

"The bigger hassle is being asked all the time these questions," he said. "I don't know how many times I need to answer until I just say I'm not going to answer it anymore. I don't feel like I'm 35 like you guys make me sound I am. I'm still only 29, and I have many more years left."

Sharapova, Azarenka meet for title today

Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova seeks her first Key Biscayne women's title today when she plays 2009 champion Victoria Azarenka (12:30 p.m., Ch. 10). A victory would be her biggest title since she won the 2008 Australian Open, the last of her three Grand Slams.

Two years ago, Azarenka stunned Serena Williams to win the final at Key Biscayne.

Nadal stops Federer, Fish out in semifinals 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 11:54pm]

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