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Federer ends another French hoodoo; Monfils ends Murray's hopes

Roger Federer salutes the crowd at the Paris-Bercy stadium 
on Friday after winning his quarterfinal against Jurgen Melzer.
Roger Federer salutes the crowd at the Paris-Bercy stadium on Friday after winning his quarterfinal against Jurgen Melzer.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roger Federer had previously lost all three of his quarterfinals at Paris Masters
  • The 29-year-old beats Jurgen Melzer to set up clash with last year's runner-up Gael Monfils
  • Fourth seed Robin Soderling will play dark horse Michael Llodra in other semifinal
  • Frenchman Llodra became the first unseeded player to reach last four since 2007
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(CNN) -- World No. 2 Roger Federer reached the semifinals of the Paris Masters for the first time in his long and illustrious career with a straight-sets victory over Austria's Jurgen Melzer on Friday.

The top seed in the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal, Federer had previously never made it past the last-eight stage -- where he was eliminated in 2002, 2003 and 2008.

It is the second time he has beaten a frustrating run in the capital, having ended his long wait for a first French Open title on clay at Roland Garros last year.

The Swiss star, a 16-time Grand Slam champion who has won 65 career titles, defeated 11th seed Melzer for the third time this season following straight-sets victories at Wimbledon and the US Open.

The 29-year-old triumphed 6-1 7-6 (7-4) against the French Open semifinalist to set up a Saturday showdown with last year's losing finalist Gael Monfils, who upset world No. 4 Andy Murray in front of a jubilant home crowd in the late match.

"I thought I served well the whole match," Federer told the ATP website after firing 18 aces, his best in a two-set match.

"I think in the second he was able play a bit more solid overall, and I think he served a bit better. Top guys rarely just go through two sets not having a sniff at all. His sniff was in the breaker when he hit two good returns to go 2-1 in a mini-break, really."

French 12th seed Monfils lost the opening game to love but broke Murray on the Scot's next turn at serve before going on to seal a 6-2 2-6 6-3 victory.

Monfils will be seeking to stop Federer's bid to win a third successive ATP event as he bids to emulate last year's feat, when he made it to the title match before losing to Novak Djokovic.

The other semifinal of the indoor hardcourt tournament will be fought out by fourth seed Robin Soderling and dark horse Michael Llodra, who knocked out Djokovic on Thursday.

Soderling saw off American eighth seed Andy Roddick, with the Swede winning 7-5 6-4 against a player he will line up with at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London later this month.

He reached the last four at Paris-Bercy for the first time, having ended a run of two three-set defeats to Roddick in the U.S. earlier this year.

"I just didn't feel sharp - everything was very basic," Roddick told the ATP website. "I played one good point, one bad point. The basics weren't there as much as they have been in the past couple of weeks, which is disappointing."

World No. 34 Llodra, France's fourth-ranked player, boosted his chances of being picked for next month's Davis Cup final against Serbia as he continued his dream run this week.

The first unseeded semifinalist since 2007, the left-hander defeated Russian 10th seed and 2006 champion Nikolay Davydenko 7-5 6-1.

The 30-year-old fought back from 4-2 down in the first set to win 11 of the next 13 games.

"I needed to play serve-and-volley because he was returning very well," Llodra said. "I was very lucid on break-points. When I had opportunities, I tried to be aggressive. I think today it was more mental victory than a tennis victory."