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They're slated to resume play Thursday, when the forecast calls for showers, and whatever the outcome, Nadal would be an overwhelming favorite.
Safin acknowledges Federer should be looked upon that way in their matchup.
"I'm playing semifinals, but that doesn't mean that I have a chance there, because the guy has won how many times already here?" Safin said after beating No. 31 Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 6-3. "To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place. ... It's just a little bit too difficult for me to beat him."
Especially if Federer plays the way he did Wednesday.
He served brilliantly, including 15 aces -- one on each of the final three points. He returned just as well, handling Ancic's 130 mph serves and limiting him to nine aces, half of what the Croat was averaging in the tournament.
Federer broke Ancic four times, and even when he didn't, made him work. The third set's opening game, for example, took 16 minutes, with 10 deuces and four break points, before Ancic finally held. It lasted 26 points, and Federer won 12 -- or, put another way, two more than Ancic took off Federer's serve all match.
"There's not one point you get for free," said Ancic, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2005.
The All England Club was the only Grand Slam site where Safin hadn't reached the final four. He came to Wimbledon with a 10-13 record this season, a ranking of 75th and a well-documented distaste for the place, from the grass to the weather to the high price of strawberries and cream.
But he's played fantastically, beating No. 3 Novak Djokovic and three other seeded players. Federer knows how talented the 6-foot-4 Russian is.
"I never looked at Marat like No. 80 or 90 in the world. I mean, that's ridiculous. He knows that himself," Federer said. "He's finally showing again what he can do. It's just quite surprising he does it here at Wimbledon."
One of Federer's two losses in 10 matches against Safin came in the 2005 Australian Open semifinals, 9-7 in the fifth set.
"Marat knows how to beat me," Federer noted. "That was a hard one. I'm going to try to get him back for that one."
As Ancic knows all too well, Federer can follow through on such thoughts.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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