Federer desperate to conquer French Open

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer will look to defy overwhelming pressure and reach his fourth straight French Open final when he takes on Juan Martin del Potro in the last four tomorrow.

The popular Swiss star will never have a better chance to win an elusive Roland Garros title, with chief rivals Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic all having been knocked out early.

His peers in the locker room are all hoping Federer can complete his haul of grand-slam titles, while the crowd at Roland Garros have been right behind him all tournament.

The 27-year-old, a runner-up here the past three years, admitted feeling nervous prior to his quarter-final win over Gael Monfils on Wednesday but the pressure should be cranked up even further today, especially with in-form Del Potro tipped to provide him with a decent test.

"I'm very thrilled and excited to be back in the semis here, and to be giving myself an opportunity," he said.

"But it doesn't mean that I'm going to win this just because I have a great record against all the players left in the draw."

Federer has never been beaten by Del Potro in five previous meetings with the Argentinian while he has not lost on clay to either of the other two semi-finalists, Robin Soderling and Fernando Gonzalez.

If Federer wins the title here, he will join Pete Sampras in owning a record 14 grand-slam titles.

Soderling, the conqueror of reigning champion Nadal, will meet Gonzalez in the battle of the big hitters in what will be the first of today's semi-finals.

Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova yesterday set up an all-Russian women's final after winning their respective last-four matches in contrasting ways.

Top seed Safina was a comfortable 6-3 6-3 winner over Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova while seventh seed Kuznetsova survived a mid-match wobble to come through 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 against Australian doubles specialist Sam Stosur.

Kuznetsova is the only player to defeat Safina on clay this year, in the final in Stuttgart.

Both have lost finals here before, Kuznetsova to Justine Henin in 2006 and Safina to Ana Ivanovic last year.