Federer reaches quarters in hometown event
Roger Federer shrugged off dropping the first set against journeyman Denis Istomin on Thursday before hitting back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the Swiss Indoors quarterfinals.
It was the top seed and five-time champion's 52nd career win at his hometown event in Basel, the place where he got his start in the sport as a ballboy two decades ago.
He now stands at a perfect 6-0 over world number 55 Istomin, who gave Federer plenty of trouble during their one-hour, 48-minute meeting.
Federer's win kept up the pressure on Novak Djokovic as the Swiss takes aim at a possible return to the year-end world number one ranking currently held by the Serb.
But the 33-year-old admitted his start had been slow.
"I don't know what happened, I just didn't get into the match very quickly. It was tough for me at the beginning," said the Swiss star.
"I was not really into the match, I was struggling with my forehand. I tried everything but it didn't work in the first set.
"But everything changed when I finally got the break in the second and was able to play more freely."
Federer, who won his first-round match in 45 minutes, lost the opening set on a break as Istomin landed a return at his feet for a crucial 4-2 lead.
The second set momentum finally turned for Federer, who fired three love games and lost just two points on serve as he levelled with a forehand winner to the corner on set point.
In the third, the Swiss was frustrated by stubborn Istomin defence, with Federer missing on four break points in the opening game before finally breaking for 2-1 on the eighth break point of the set, a passing winner.
Federer completed his comeback with a sixth ace on match point to advance into a quarterfinal against either fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov or Canadian Vasek Pospisil, whom he beat in the 2013 semifinals.
Canadian fourth seed Milos Raonic continued his winning tournament debut with 22 aces as he overcame American Donald Young 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7-2) in nearly two and a half hours.
"There were things I had to do differently, but at the end of the day the most important thing was to win, no matter how," said the Canadian.
Croatian eighth seed Ivo Karlovic needed to go the distance to beat Kenny De Schepper 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-3.
German Benjamin Becker advanced when Mikhail Kukushkin, who beat Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round, retired with a shoulder injury at 0-4 in the final set.
Croatian teenager Borna Coric reached the last eight with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Andrey Golubev.