• ATP Tour

Federer made to sweat before booking final spot

ESPN staff
February 18, 2012 « Vidic poised for early return? | Chartbeat test »
Nikolay Davydenko was unable to capitalise on a strong start © Getty Images
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Roger Federer had to call on all his experience and expertise to beat Nikolay Davydenko in three sets on Saturday, booking his place in the final of the World Tennis Tournament.

Federer, the No. 1 seed, looked like he could be in for a disappointing night after dropping the first set to the experienced Russian, but dug deep into his vast reservoir of tennis know-how to eventually eke out a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory in two hours and 15 minutes.

While statistically superior throughout the match, Davydenko showed a better knack of taking opportunities when they came to move within a set of the semi-final. From there Federer had a number of close shaves - being forced to deuce on more than one of his service games - but after clinching the second set he looked to be composed and in rhythm as he eventually found the right shots to engineer the decisive break - and with it the match.

Juan Martin del Potro reached his first final of 2012 with a 6-3 6-1 triumph over Tomas Berdych. The Argentinean needed 75 minutes to extend his winning streak over Berdych to three, in what was their first meeting since 2009.

Del Potro, who returned to the world's top ten after the Australian Open, has looked impenetrable on serve throughout the tournament, and he continued that trend against Berdych, who could not manage a break. Del Potro has only surrendered his serve twice in the tournament so far - and he showed how well his delivery is functioning by thundering down nine aces.

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