Federer, Safin set up dream final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/R/Rogerfederer.jpg' class='caption'> World number one Roger Federer cruised into the Halle Open final in Germany on Saturday, with a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) victory over home favourite Tommy Haas.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:52 IST
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World number one Roger Federer cruised into the Halle Open final in Germany on Saturday, with a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) victory over home favourite Tommy Haas. The Swiss maestro took a 27-match, three-year unbeaten record on grass into the semis. It didn't take long for the world number one to make an impression on the Haas serve, despite a partisan crowd of some 12,500 fans cheering for their man. Rallying ahead After breaking for 2-1, Federer allowed his opponent just three points on his own serve and closed out the first set with an ace to take it 6-4 in just 35 minutes. Haas rallied in the second set and saved four break points on the way to forcing a tiebreak. The 27 year-old German then faced the prospect of going 6-4 behind in the breaker, but played a textbook grass court point to haul himself back into the match at 5-5. Both players had their chances after that - Federer wasted two match points while Haas twice squandered a set point - before another Federer ace set-up match point number three. Crumbling under pressure The Haas serve crumbled under the pressure and the match ended rather anti-climactically with a double fault after an hour and 37 minutes. Federer cruised into his third straight final in Halle, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) and took his season's record to 50 wins and three losses. The two-time Wimbledon champion had to wait another two hours to find out his opponent for Sunday's final, as the number two seed Marat Safin took on Guillermo Canas, seeded four, in the second semi-final. First breakthrough Safin, one of an elite band of players to have beaten Federer this year, made the first breakthrough in the sixth game of the opening set. However, he had to rely on a poor volley at the net by his opponent to break serve and open up a 4-2 lead. The 25 year-old Russian duly claimed the first set 6-3, but Canas came storming back in the second, breaking serve to lead 3-1 at one stage - eventually levelling the match by taking the second set 6-4. Lifting the game Safin lifted his own game in the decider to break twice and lead 5-2, but then had trouble closing out the match, surviving three break points and wasting three as Canas hung on bravely. But a trademark ace brought matters to a conclusion, Safin running out the winner 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in five minutes short of two hours. Federer awaits him in the final, and Safin can take confidence from their last encounter. At the semi-final stage of the Australian Open in January, Safin got the better of Federer in a five set marathon - it ended up 9-7 in the decider - on the way to claiming the second Grand Slam title of his career. However, Federer holds a 6-2 overall record against Safin and will still go into the final as the favourite. (AP)

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