Federer rallies; Djokovic wilts

Updated: January 27, 2010, 2:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Top-seeded Roger Federer overcame an awkward start to win 13 straight games and beat Nikolay Davydenko 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 to reach the semifinals for a 23rd straight Grand Slam.

Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals here two years ago en route to the title, was beaten by the man he defeated that year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, in a later quarterfinal.

[+] EnlargeTsonga
Greg Wood/AFP/Getty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasted Novak Djokovic to advance to a semifinal against top-seeded Roger Federer.

Tsonga beat Djokovic 7-6 (8), 6-7 (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in a near four-hour match and will play Federer in a semifinal Friday. Djokovic appeared to be affected by breathing difficulties and stomach problems during part of the match and took a medical timeout trailing 2-0 in the fourth set.

Djokovic said he had an upset stomach before the match, probably as a result of something he ate.

"I had to go to the toilet otherwise I would have thrown up on court," Djokovic said. "When you lose a lot of fluids, your engines stop working and that's how I felt."

Tsonga said he wasn't sure how much the illness affected Djokovic.

"He had a little bit of a stomach problem," Tsonga said. "It's strange because sometimes he doesn't play the point, and when it starts to become important he plays."

Last year, Djokovic retired in the fourth set of his quarterfinal against Andy Roddick with a heat-related illness, but the weather conditions Wednesday night were cool and breezy.

Andy Murray and Marin Cilic are already through to the semis and will play Thursday night.

Federer is impressed with his Grand Slam semifinal streak.

"It's incredible, looking back on how many years that is now, I'm able to deliver at Grand Slam play," Federer said. "For some reason I was just a bit worried I was not going to make it this time in the semis.

"Now obviously that it's safe again and I've been able to add one. Definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my résumé."

Federer's victory snapped a 13-match Davydenko winning streak after the Russian won the season-ending ATP World Finals in November at London and his 20th career title in Doha earlier this month.

"I've played him many times before, and I know he goes through ... some rock-solid phases at times," Federer said. "I just tried to stay positive."

Davydenko, who thumped his first three opponents before grinding a five-set victory over Fernando Verdasco, was immaculate early, breaking Federer three times to wrap up the first set and race to a 3-1 lead in the second.

Federer
Greg Wood/AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Federer cooled off Nikolay Davydenko to reach a 23rd straight Grand Slam semifinal.

Having declared the top 10 players were "scared" of him after winning the season-ending ATP Tour Finals in London, Davydenko appeared determined to live up to his self-proclaimed reputation, dictating the play and thumping winners from all angles.

The bravado disappeared quickly, however, when given four chances to take a two-break lead, the Russian blew them all, following a double fault with three consecutive unforced errors.

Federer, sensing the momentum shift, pounced.

At the end of a breathtaking half-hour of near faultless shot-making, the Swiss master emerged a set up with a 2-0 lead in the fourth, while Davydenko was left reeling.

As both players struggled to deal with the dipping sun that left one side of the court plunged in darkness and the other brightly lit, Davydenko rallied, firing three crisply hit winners in a row to save match point and break back to 5-5.

"I was like asking 'why now?' He could have played those at another time when it wasn't important," said Federer, who was beaten in last year's final by Rafa Nadal.

The 15-time Grand Slam champion bided his time, however, to take the break back, then dispatched the Russian with a thumping serve after setting up match point with an ace.

"Pissed off? What else," Davydenko replied when asked how he felt about his play during Federer's run of successive games.

"But what else [could I do]? Bad luck. [I'll] go home tomorrow [and] relax."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.