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Backed by 35 winners, No. 5 seed Gael Monfils defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 6-4, in 89 minutes to advance to the semifinals at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha on Thursday. 13-time grand slam singles champion Roger Federer and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick also advanced to the final four in Doha.
In their three previous meetings, Monfils had not won more than three games in a set against Nadal, which was not the case this afternoon. The Paris native smashed eight aces past the Spaniard, while dropping only seven first serve points. Monfils won 33 of 40 first serve points throughout the match and was able to break serve three times on seven opportunities. Nadal was somewhat sluggish in the serving department, hitting two double faults while not serving an ace the entire match. The defending Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion won only 29 of 46 first serve points, but did manage to break serve once. Monfils next faces Roddick, who easily defeated Romanian Victor Hanescu, 6-3, 6-2. Monfils owns a 3-1 edge against the American, winning their last three meetings.
Federer, Doha champion in 2005 and 2006, survived a close encounter with German Philipp Kohlschreiber, winning, 6-2, 7-6(6), in one hour and 26 minutes. The Swiss star quickly got ahead 6-3, 3-0, before the German picked up his style of playing becoming more aggressive. After Federer had a chance to break serve and go up 5-3, Kohlschreiber eventually held to even the match at 4-4. The second set went to a tiebreak, with Kohlschreiber jumping ahead 5-1. The young German then found himself up 6-3, holding three set points against the former top-ranked player. On the first set point, Kohlschreiber netted a forehand, followed by a lob winner by Federer on the second set point. Federer then smashed a service winner and an ace out wide to take the lead 7-6. On match point, Federer smashed a shot down the line to win the match and end the lengthy 56-minute second set. The Swiss legend smashed four aces throughout the match compared to only one by Kohlschreiber. Federer was also able to break serve four times, two more than his opponent. Federer next faces World No. 4 Andy Murray, who cruised past Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, 6-4, 6-2. Last week, Murray upset Federer in three sets in the semifinals of the Capitala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Although the match did not officially count for ranking purposes, Murray does currently own a 4-2 series edge against Federer, winning three of four meetings in 2008.