The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Federer on course for third title
- Lleyton Hewitt blown away in semi-finals

London: Roger Federerís stranglehold over Lleyton Hewitt reached suffocating proportions on Friday as he moved to the brink of a third consecutive Wimbledon title.

The world No. 1 gave the Australian third seed another master class on Centre Court, winning 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

The other semi-final was suspended because of rain. American Andy Roddick was leading 6-5 in the first set with Swede Thomas Johansson to serve.

Hewitt is one of the gameís toughest cookies, but with the magical Swiss on the other side of the net his game crumbled.

Federerís domination over the player ranked immediately below him in the world rankings is such that he has won the last eight matches against him.

ďIím really pleased to be in my third final,Ē said Federer, who has also won 35 consecutive matches on grass since his defeat by Mario Ancic in the first round here in 2002.

ďI canít believe I did it so smoothly in straight sets. Itís a huge relief, but thereís still two days of pressure.Ē

If the capacity crowd were expecting a backlash they were to be sadly disappointed.

His counter-punching percentage game is too good for virtually every other player but against Federer the sums just do not add up.

The Swiss can defend as well as Hewitt, moves just as well, serves at a similar pace, but unlike Hewitt, he can launch devastating attacks from any part of the court with a dazzling array of spins and angles.

After swapping service breaks early in the first set, Federer turned the screw in the eighth game after Hewitt errors put him 0-30 ahead.

Hewitt recovered to 30-30 but a netted forehand gave Federer a chance.

A gravity-defying sliced backhand from the Swiss drew gasps from the crowd and forced another error from Hewitt to clinch the break and the top seed easily served out the set.

Federerís first serve was way below its best, but Hewitt could make no impression on it at the start of the second set. Hewitt gift-wrapped Federer a break in the fifth game with four amateurish backhands and the world No. 1 needed no second invitation to stroll into a two-set lead.

Hewitt does not do capitulation, however, and he at least made Federer perspire in the third. At 2-2 he had a rare sniff of a service break, but an over-rule went against him at deuce after a dipping topspun Federer forehand caught the outer edge of the baseline.

That proved to be Hewittís last chance. The Australian netted a backhand and served a double fault to trail 1-4 in the tiebreak and although he clawed it back to 4-5, Federer had the whiff of another Sunday showpiece in his nostrils.

A powerful first serve gave him two match points and the Swiss jumped for joy seconds later when Hewitt surrendered with a lame forehand into the net. (Reuters)

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