Defending champion Roger Federer, clay-court king Rafael Nadal and Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic all cruised into the Hamburg Masters semi-finals on Friday with straight-set wins.
Nadal saw off compatriot and 11th-seed Carlos Moya 6-1, 6-3 to set up a showdown with Djokovic in yesterday’s semi-final.
The double prize of a place in today’s final and the world No. 2 ranking are both at stake.
Djokovic will take Nadal’s place, which he has held since July 2005 as No.2 behind Federer, if he beats the Spaniard although in their previous meetings on clay the Serb has lost all three.
“There is no favorite for Saturday’s semi-final, he is leading the ATP Race this season, while I am playing very well,” said Nadal, who has won the last three titles at Roland Garros which starts in just over a week.
“It will be no more important than any other Masters Series semi-final, the main thing is I am confident, playing well and looking forward to a tough match,” he said.
Djokovic is certainly the man in form this year and he cruised through his quarter-final against Spain’s Albert Montanes to seal a 6-2, 6-3 win in 77 minutes.
“I didn’t want to underestimate my opponent, but I was conscious of saving energy and keeping something back for the semi-final,” Djokovic said.
World No.1 Federer always looked comfortable as he beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-3 in 80 minutes to face Italy’s Andreas Seppi, ranked 43rd in the world, yesterday for a place in the final.
Verdasco, 28th in the world, had removed fifth-seed David Ferrer and tenth-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny in previous rounds but a foot injury in the second set compromised his bid to oust his Swiss opponent.
“It was quite a tough match, he’s a very talented player who is capable of beating any player on any surface, I had to work hard,” Federer said.
“I thought he would come out and go for aces, but he hit some great shots off his backhand,” he said.
Seppi came out on top 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in a marathon three hour 13 minutes contest against home hope Nicolas Kiefer in a quarter-final where both players served for the match.
Roared on by the crowd, Kiefer bounced back from being 6-3, 5-3 down in the second set to serve for the match at 5-4 up in the third.
But Seppi held his nerve to deny Kiefer the opportunity to become the first German in the semi-finals here since 1997.