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Federer, Tsonga reach Australian Open semis

MELBOURNE, Australia - The only three men to beat Roger Federer in the last 19 majors were either already out of the Australian Open or in the other half of the draw, leaving the Swiss star with a new threat to face.

Nikolay Davydenko's 13- match winning streak was the hottest on the tour and included two wins over Federer during title runs at the season-ending championships in November and the season-opening event at Doha this month.

The Russian unloaded everything he had on Federer for a set and a half yesterday and was suddenly in uncharted territory at a Grand Slam tournament.

That's when a bit of gamesmanship and a lot of big-match experience helped Federer switch gears and win 13 straight games en route to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 victory that sent Davydenko packing to join Federer's former Grand Slam conquerors, No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 4-ranked Juan Martin del Potro.

Soon after, Federer's other conqueror, third-seeded Novak Djokovic, was gone, too, beaten by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Davydenko had lost 12 matches to Federer before gaining some confidence with his back-to-back wins.

After dropping the first set, Federer decided to take a quick comfort break to let the sun that had been bothering him move a little bit.

That gave Davydenko time to think about the situation at Rod Laver Arena.

It didn't work right away. Federer dropped serve three games later and fell behind 3-1, but then the momentum swung dramatically.

"You're allowed to have two toilet breaks and I never use them, and I figured maybe the sun goes by one centimeter to three centimeters . . . maybe it's that one point that makes a difference," Federer said, adding for the record: "Oh, I had to go to the toilet, too."

Regarding the 13-game run, Federer added: "Winning that many games in a row against a player that's been on fire like this, it's a great sign."

The win stretched his record to a 23rd consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearance, something he rated as "definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my resume." Before Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rod Laver shared the record at 10.

Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals here in 2008 en route to the title, complained of an upset stomach after a 7-6 (8), 6-7 (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Tsonga, reversing the outcome of their meeting in the final here two years ago.

"I saw he wasn't very good, but sometimes he does that and he wins," Tsonga said.

Tsonga will meet Federer tomorrow. Fifth-seeded Andy Murray will face No. 14 Marin Cilic in the other semifinal.

Williamses opt for football

Serena and Venus Williams will not play in the Feb. 6-7 Fed Cup quarterfinal between the United States and France, saying they plan to be in South Florida for Super Bowl weekend in their roles as part owners of the NFL's Miami Dolphins. - AP

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