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Gonzalez races to Federer showdown

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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Chile's Fernando Gonzalez again served up a dazzling display of all-court tennis to reach his first grand slam final with a straight sets thrashing of Germany's Tommy Haas at the Australian Open on Friday.

Gonzalez, the 10th seed, won 6-1 6-3 6-1 in just 91 minutes to continue an inspired run which has seen him account for home hope Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake, Rafael Nadal and now Haas.

The ultimate test in the shape of world number one Roger Federer awaits on Sunday but if Gonzalez can reproduce his semifinal form then a classic is expected.

The 26-year-old finished the match with a blistering crosscourt backhand, his 42nd outright winner of a near-perfect display, and fittingly it was the cue for a firework display to mark Australia Day to begin over the skies of Melbourne.

In a display reminiscent of Federer's dismantling of former world number one Andy Roddick the previous night, Gonzalez proceeded to win the first 11 points of the match and with three breaks of service took the first set.

Haas, the 12th seed, had battled into the semifinals by grinding out a five-set marathon victory over third seed Nikolay Davydenko, but was finding Gonzalez an altogether proposition.

Gonzalez allowed himself the luxury of three unforced errors, the only blemishes on a flawless display, in the second set but still produced 12 winners to take a two sets to love lead.

Using his sliced backhand to great effect to set up thumping forehands, Gonzalez was never going to be denied as Haas's challenge faded and he claimed the match on his first match point and seventh break of service.

"Today was a really good day. In my last four matches I've been playing great tennis, I'm enjoying it a lot and I'm playing all over the court," Gonzalez said.

"I was very calm at the important moments."

Haas, who enjoyed a fine run to the semifinals, was philosophic in defeat.

"Every time I tried to do something differently, he came up with the answer," said Haas.

"That's quite frustrating after a period of time. Each set you try to start well and maybe get a momentum going. He got on top of me every single time.

"I just have to hand it to him, tip the hat, say that's too good tonight."


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Haas was simply swept away by the brilliance of Gonzalez.

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