Federer hits top form to oust Moya

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The Independent Online

Top-ranked Roger Federer played nearly perfect tennis to beat Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-3 in a Hamburg Masters quarterfinal showdown Friday between the players that lead the ATP seasonal rankings.

Top-ranked Roger Federer played nearly perfect tennis to beat Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-3 in a Hamburg Masters quarterfinal showdown Friday between the players that lead the ATP seasonal rankings.

Federer showed why he is No. 1 in the world against one of the top clay-court players, producing winners almost at will and keeping Moya on the defensive the entire match.

"I served very well today," said Federer, who improved his career record against Moya to 4-0. This was their first match on clay.

"I am very happy with the way I played. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament," Federer said. He won the Hamburg event two years ago for his first major title.

Federer's opponent in the semifinal will be another former No. 1 in the world, Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Juergen Melzer 6-4, 6-3. Hewitt, winner of two titles this year, holds a 7-3 career record against Federer but they have never met on clay.

"Neither of us plays a traditional clay-court game," Hewitt said. "It's a good chance to see where my game stands."

Defending champion Guillermo Coria, seeded second, cruised into the semifinals by beating David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2.

Coria hasn't lost a clay-court match dating back to the semifinals of last year's French Open, a total of 30. He's now 15-0 on clay for the year, with titles in Buenos Aires and Monte Carlo.

Moya came into the quarterfinal riding a nine-match winning streak, including last week's Italian Open.

Federer, winner of two of the last three Grand Slam tournaments, heads the annual ATP race which produces the No. 1 for the year ahead of Moya. In the ATP entry rankings, which determine seedings, Federer is No. 1 and Moya is No. 8.

Both players have won three titles this year. Federer, who won the Australian Open, is off to his best start in a year with a 30-3 record. Moya has most wins on clay with a 24-5 record.

"He can do anything with the ball. His serve is not very fast but it's hard to read," Moya said. "He plays very well whatever the surface and I didn't play my best, my legs were not as fresh today."

Moya had a tough three-set third-round match a day earlier.

The ?2.4 million (US$2.9 million) clay-court event is the fifth of nine Masters Series tournaments, one tier below the Grand Slams. It is also a major tuneup for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year that starts May 24.

Federer, who won Wimbledon last year, gave himself a prefect confidence booster before Roland Garros by beating Moya, who won the French Open in 1998 and who is among the favorites this year as well.

"It's a good test for the French Open, but that's not the way I see it because Hamburg is too important to be considered just a test

After winning his first three service games at love, Federer broke Moya's serve to win the first set.

"I had a break point at the start of the second and had I used it maybe I would have gotten back into the match," Moya said.

Instead, Federer used a Moya double-fault to romp to a 3-0 lead and won the match when Moya hit a forehand wide.

"I converted break points very well and it was important not to let him take the lead at the start of the second," Federer said.

In the last quarterfinal, Ivan Ljubicic faced Mikhail Youzhny.

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