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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Davydenko Reaches French Semifinals

PARIS -- No. 12 seed Nikolai Davydenko edged Spain's No. 15 seed Tommy Robredo 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in a thrilling men's quarterfinal in the French Open at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Argentine Mariano Puerta, back on the tennis tour following a nine-month suspension, is relishing the best Grand Slam performance of his nine-year career.

Davydenko, who turns 24 Thursday, reached his first major semifinal, outlasting Robredo in 3 hours, 18 minutes. The Russian pulled a backhand winner crosscourt to break for a 4-3 lead in the final set, then overcame a love-30 deficit in the final game and served out the victory on his fourth match point.

Davydenko has won 10 consecutive matches, including a fourth-round upset of last year's runner-up, Guillermo Coria.

The unseeded Puerta also advanced to his first major semifinal by beating fellow Argentine Guillermo Canas 6-2, 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Puerta is playing in his first Grand Slam event since serving a suspension that began in October 2003 after he tested positive for clenbuterol, a drug whose effects resemble those of anabolic steroids by promoting muscle growth. An investigative panel determined that a doctor prescribed the drug to Puerta to treat an acute asthma attack.

The other semifinal will be the much-anticipated rematch between No. 4 Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Roger Federer. Nadal has won 22 consecutive matches, all on clay, since blowing a two-set lead and losing to Federer in the hardcourt final at Key Biscayne two months ago.

"Everybody has been looking forward a little bit to this one," Federer said. "It's going to be really interesting to see."

Federer and Nadal have both advanced to the Roland Garros semifinals for the first time, and they'll meet on Nadal's 19th birthday. Count the Spaniard among those who consider Federer the favorite.

"He has been playing very well," Nadal said. "Obviously it's an important match, and a wonderful match to play. I hope I'll enjoy it."

Three-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin-Hardenne is the heavy favorite in the women's final four, and her opponent in the semifinals Thursday will be No. 7 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia.

The other women's match will pit Frenchwoman Mary Pierce against another Russian, 16th-seeded Yelena Likhovtseva, who's playing in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time in her 12-year career. Pierce will play in a semifinal at a major event Thursday for the first time since she won the 2000 Roland Garros title.

"It has been a really interesting journey," she said Tuesday, after beating top-ranked Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 6-2. "It has been really tough. I've had some difficult moments. ... I really savor victories now more than before. They mean more to me now because I went through difficult times."