Volandri follows Federer victory with win over Berdych


Filippo Volandri followed up his win over Roger Federer by beating 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-3 today to reach the semifinals of the Rome Masters.

Volandri, who entered on a wild card invitation, became the first Italian to reach the final four in Rome since Adriano Panatta in 1978. Panatta was also the last Italian to win the tournament, in 1976.

Volandri will play either sixth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez or Juan Ignacio Chela.

Earlier, fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko rallied to beat Tommy Robredo 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Davydenko will play either Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Novak Djokovic.

For the second straight day, the 53rd-ranked Volandri gave his highly favored opponent trouble with his steady groundstrokes and deep service returns.

Like he did during the straight-set win over Federer on Thursday, Volandri was aided by a partisan crowd. After each point Volandri won, fans banged together inflatable balloons provided by a sponsor.

It's the first time Volandri has reached the semifinals of a Masters series event, and the first time he has beaten Berdych in four tries. The previous three losses had all been in straight sets.

"For it to happen here, I couldn't ask for more," Volandri said.

Against Davydenko, the seventh-seeded Robredo dominated the first set with his steady baseline play, but appeared to lose energy as the match wore on.

"He was playing his best tennis, very clean with no errors," Davydenko said. "In the second set, I tried to make the points last a little longer and I think he got tired. That's what gave me the chance to win."

Davydenko beat former No. — Marat Safin in the second round and has won five of his 10 career titles on clay. He has reached the quarterfinals and semifinals at the French Open in the last two years.

The Rome Masters is an important warmup for Roland Garros, which begins May 27.

Nadal has won 74 consecutive matches on clay and can match John McEnroe's record for most consecutive wins on one surface if he beats Djokovic later Friday.

McEnroe had a 75-match winning streak on indoor-carpet between September 1983 and April 1985.

Djokovic was the last player to beat Nadal &

on hard courts in the quarterfinals in Key Biscayne, Fla., in March.

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