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WORLD SPORT

Federer and Nadal reach the final

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Federer is pursuing a fourth successive Wimbledon title.

WIMBLEDON, England -- Roger Federer blasted his way into a fourth consecutive Wimbledon final with a 6-2 6-0 6-2 thrashing of Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman on Friday.

He will face arch rival Rafael Nadal, who resisted the challenge of Marcos Baghdatis 6-1 7-5 6-3.

Nadal has a 6-1 record over the world number one but this time must overcome him on his favored grass.

Triple defending champion Federer destroyed his 34-year-old unseeded opponent in a display of brutal brilliance before a beguiled Center Court crowd.

Federer won 11 games in a row at one stage of the mismatch, with an array of winners from all parts of the court, and completed his most comprehensive win of the tournament in only 77 minutes.

The Swiss will face either Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal or Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in Sunday's final, when he attempts to become only the third man in the professional era to win four consecutive Wimbledon titles.

Federer has now won 47 matches in a row on grass and has yet to drop a set in this year's tournament. The only other man to win Wimbledon without dropping a set since tennis turned professional in 1968 was Sweden's Bjorn Borg 30 years ago.

"I played a secure game plan in the beginning and then I really got on a roll and I played excellent tennis," said Federer.

"I got into every one of his service games and I think that was difficult for him."

Doubles specialist Bjorkman was playing in only the second grand slam singles semifinal of his career and his first at Wimbledon.

Holding serve in the first game of the match was good as it got for the Swede, however.

Mesmerized

Federer mesmerized him and the crowd after that and his ripped, dipping top-spun forehand was the Swiss's preferred shot of the day.

He took the first set in 27 minutes and began treating Bjorkman's attempted winners with contempt, sending them back harder than they came.

The gulf between the players was summed up in the fourth game of the second set when Bjorkman led 30-15 on Federer's serve.

The Swiss sent down three consecutive aces and Bjorkman saw his chance of a break disappear without being able to lay his racket on the ball.

Two games later a cry of "How do you do it, Roger?" rang out from the stands when Federer hit another ridiculous forehand winner and he wrapped up the second set in only 23 minutes.

Bjorkman finally snapped the 11-game losing streak when he held to trail 2-1 in the third but Federer was now toying with his opponent and mercifully the end for the Swede was swift.

He netted a forehand to concede defeat before offering his congratulations to the champion, who is the first man in the professional era to have reached five consecutive grand slam singles finals.

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Nadal is Spain's first finalist since Santana in 1966.

The Spanish second seed Nadal, who beat Federer in the French Open final last month, battered his Cypriot opponent to a standstill in front of an enthralled Center Court crowd.

Baghdatis, 21, was overwhelmed in a 30-minute first set but the second produced a breathtaking battle as the pair contested sublime rallies.

Despite going two sets and then a break down Baghdatis refused to give up, but 20-year-old Nadal would not be denied and he became the first Spanish man to reach the final at Wimbledon since Manuel Santana in 1966, clinching victory in two hours 26 minutes.

"It's a dream for me to make the final, I feel really emotional right now," said Nadal immediately after his triumph.

He dismissed his impressive record over Federer. "This is his surface. It will be very tough."

After his bad start Baghdatis recovered his composure in the second and had chances to break in the third and seventh games but the Spaniard, who came into the match not having lost his serve since the second round, held on.

The Cypriot, who was Australian Open runner-up in January, had Nadal on his toes, but he still had to fight off two set points in the 10th game and another in the 12th.

But he could do nothing with the fourth set point when Nadal unleashed a vicious forehand down the line to take the second set 7-5 after an entertaining 94 minutes on court.

Baghdatis had two more break points in the opening game of the third set.

Again, Nadal was equal to the challenge and gained his reward for his tenacity when he clinched a break to lead 3-1 with a stirring mixture of defense and attack on a point that Baghdatis had dominated.

A love service game followed for the Spaniard as the fight drained from the Cypriot, who wasted five break points in the seventh game which would have put him back in the tie.

Nadal punished his opponent for the last time when he took the match with a smash on his second match point after an enthralling two and a half hours.

Both men walked off to a standing ovation with Nadal sportingly saluting his opponent.

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