PARIS — Top-seeded Roger Federer reached the semifinals of the Paris Masters for the first time by defeating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (4) Friday.
Federer, who this week called the Parisian indoor tournament his “worst” Masters, had previously lost three times in the quarterfinals.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a relief, because a relief is something else, but I’m pleased to be in the semis,” Federer said. “I knew it was going to be difficult because in the beginning I only had one hour of practice here. But now I feel good and I’m not too tired.”
Andy Roddick lost the serving contest against Robin Soderling, who had 18 aces in the 7-5, 6-4 win.
Following victories in Stockholm and Basel, Federer won a 12th consecutive match and sent winners all over the court during a 20-minute first set that he opened with an ace.
Federer, who fired 18 aces and had 33 winners overall, will next play last year’s runner-up and local favorite Gael Monfils, who beat third-seeded Andy Murray 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Murray ran out of gas and struggled on his first serve in the decider, allowing Monfils to make the decisive break in the fifth game after the 23-year-old Scot made two consecutive unforced errors.
“I’m going to chill out for a few days, get a good night of sleep and then try to get my body right for London”, Murray said, referring to the ATP World Tour Finals in the British capital from Nov. 21-28.
Murray was clearly feeling the effect of having played Marin Cilic in a tough three-setter on Thursday night.
“When you get to bed at 3 a.m. the night before the match, this is not the ideal preparation,” Murray said.
Soderling will play Michael Llodra after the Frenchman defeated Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 7-5, 6-1.
Soderling got off to a strong start on the fast center court, losing just one point on his first serve in the first 10 games.
“Against Andy, it’s always just a matter of taking the chances you get,” the Swede said. “I served pretty well. I could have put some more first serves in, but my second serve was good and overall it was a good match.”
Roddick struggled to return Soderling’s big serve and failed to convert the only two break chances he had. Soderling broke Roddick for a 6-5 lead when the American buried a backhand into the net and threw his racket in anger. Roddick won a 39-shot rally that gave him a break point in the next game, but Soderling saved it with a crosscourt forehand winner and celebrated with a fist pump.
The two-time French Open runner-up broke again in the first game of the second set and served out the match at love with an ace. Roddick finished with 15 aces.
Roddick said he might have lost his focus after qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Thursday. Soderling also qualified for the season-ending tournament.
“The last two weeks you’re kind on pins and needles trying to qualify for this thing, and it might have been a little bit of mental letdown today, which is completely on me,” Roddick said. “That’s my fault. I should be professional enough not to have that.”