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Escude beats Federer again, advances

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Nicolas Escude of France Friday edged Roger Federer

of Switzerland once more at the $713,000 ABN/AMRO World Tennis

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Tournament.

In a rematch of last year's final, Escude rallied past the

seventh-seeded Federer, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 7-5, to advance to the

semifinals of his third straight ATP event.

Escude barely beat his Swiss foe in 2001, winning the title in a

final-set tiebreak. On Friday, the 25-year-old trailed 3-5 in

the second-set tiebreak before reeling off three straight points

and holding on to knot the contest.

A finalist at last week's Marseille Open, Escude jumped up to

11th in the 2002 ATP Champions Race with his strong start to the

year. He also reached the semifinals at the Milan Indoor,

falling to eventual champion Davide Sanguinetti.

Escude will meet compatriot Sebastien Grosjean in the

semifinals. Seeded fourth, Grosjean defeated another Frenchman

in the last eight, downing Arnaud Clement, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3.

Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia and sixth seed Tim Henman of Britain

will contest the other semifinal.

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Ljubicic outlasted Swiss qualifier Ivo Heuberger, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3,

and reached to his first semifinal of 2002.

Ljubicic had failed to advance from his only previous

quarterfinal this year. On Jan. 4 at Adelaide, the

22-year-old was forced to retire from his match against Moroccan

Hicham Arazi due to an elbow injury.

Henman, a two-time runner-up here, moved into the semifinals

with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Bohdan Ulihrach of the Czech

Republic.

The British No. 1 won his ninth career ATP title last month at

Adelaide.

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