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Nadal, Federer to reach Qatar Open semis   11-01-07 17:36

  DOHA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Rafael Nadal beat Ernests Gulbis and his continuing fever for the semifinals of the Qatar Open here on Thursday.

  Nadal's 7-6(3), 6-3 win over Gulbis, means that he is within one win of another rivalry against Roger Federer.

  "I just did the best I could today," said Nadal. "I started well, and I pushed him to make many mistakes. I will be more ready for my next match."

  His semifinal opponent will be Nikolay Davydenko, the defending champion from Russia, who overcame big-serving Ivo Karlovic, the former top 20 Croatian, by 6-3, 7-5.

  Davydenko beat Nadal in a sensational final last year, losing the first set to love and saving two match points in the process.

  "I will be ready for him this time," Nadal stressed.

  Federer outplayed Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-2, 6-2 for the semifinals.

  Even though the Grand Slam record-holder was still not at his best, passing up seven break points before breaking through for 4-2 in the second set, there were nevertheless signs of the improved form he has enjoyed most of the time since his association with coach Paul Annacone.

  "I am happier with that," Federer said. "I felt more comfortable -- more comfortable than the first and second rounds," he added referring to his unexpected hard-earned victories over Thomas Schoorel and Marco Chiudinelli.

  Federer now plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is seeking his first title in 15 months after a long spell with knee problems, and who reached the semi-final with a 7-6(4), 7-6(9) win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the seventh-seeded Spaniard.

  "He's one of the game's great characters, and a dangerous player," Federer said of the man who reached the 2008 Australian Open final.

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