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Federer Hits Milestone; Soderling Ousted

Stockholm, Sweden

Soderling© Joel Marklund/BildbyrånRobin Soderling had last played Florian Mayer at the 2007 Australian Open.

Roger Federer put his 50th match win of the season in the books Friday night in Stockholm, but not before surviving an early scare against fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. Federer rallied from a set down and a break down to beat his countryman 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and advance to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament, which he last played in 2000.

"It was very close obviously," Federer said. "The score was 6-2, 2-0, which is a clear indication that you're in trouble. I found a way to come back just in time. I was happy to be able to come through this time. I think the match against Murray [in Sunday's Shanghai Rolex Master's final] helped me today."

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Federer has now reached the 50-wins milestone for nine consecutive years, tying a mark also reached by Pete Sampras. Jimmy Connors holds the record for 13 consecutive years with 50 or more match wins. Guillermo Vilas and Stefan Edberg each passed the milestone for 10 consecutive years.

Federer improved to a 6-1 career record against Wawrinka, whom he defeated in straight sets at Roland Garros this year when they last met. Federer next plays Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic, against whom he has won nine consecutive matches and leads 12-3 in career meetings. But it will be their first meeting in more than two years.

Federer also spoke about the opportunity to hit with former World No. 1 Stefan Edberg. "It was a big moment for me. I'd never hit with him before. He's the last hero that I hadn't played with before. It was nice talking to him in the locker room yesterday. We started talking about hitting a few balls. He was in a suit and I didn't even know if he had his gear or not."

World No. 5 Robin Soderling fell agonizingly short of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Friday, when the second-seeded Swede was beaten by No. 47-ranked Florian Mayer 7-6(8), 6-1.

Mayer, who had won their previous meeting at the 2007 Australian Open, kept his nerve in a tense first-set tie-break and broke Soderling’s serve in the fourth and sixth games of the second set. Mayer reached the last four at the German Open Tennis Championships (l. to Golubev) in July. He improved to a 22-15 match record on the season. Soderling dropped to a 48-19 mark.

If Soderling had reached the semi-finals he could have clinched the fifth berth at the prestigious season finale at The O2 in London from 21-28 November. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have already secured a spot in the eight-player field.

"He played better than me today, while I couldn't reach my usual standard," Soderling said. "I couldn't find my timing today. At the same time he played really well. It's always disappointing to lose."

Fourth seed Ljubicic, bidding to win his seventh indoor ATP World Tour title, battled his way into the semi-finals by beating qualifier and fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes. The 31-year-old Ljubicic, currently No. 17 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, won his 10th title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Roddick) in March.

Finland's Jarkko Nieminen snapped a six-match losing streak against American wild card James Blake by recording his first win over the 2005-2006 Stockholm titlist. Nieminen, runner-up to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at the PTT Thailand Open during the recent Asian swing, won 70 per cent of service points, hit five aces and saved the two break points he faced to defeat Blake 6-0, 6-2 in just 50 minutes. The 29-year-old Nieminen has a 25-24 season record.

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