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ROGER FEDERER

Federer downs fellow Swiss Wawrinka to reach Cincinnati semis

World number two Roger Federer posted his second win of the day, amid a lightning fear interruption, to reach the semi-finals of the ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters on Friday.

Federer downs fellow Swiss Wawrinka to reach Cincinnati semis
Roger Federer is aiming for an eighth Cincinnati final. Photo: AFP

The seven-time champion beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-2.

The match was interrupted for 21 minutes with players being sent off court and crowds told to seek shelter as a storm cell passed near the site.

But after the pause, the pair came back out, with Federer finally securing the first break of the match on his seventh chance to take a 4-2 lead over his longtime rival.

Federer closed out victory two games later and will face David Goffin after the Belgian beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4).

Federer began his day by beating Leo Mayer 6-1, 7-6 (8/6).

“It's quite unusual to stop for lightning,” Federer said after beating Wawrinka for the 23rd time in 26 meetings.

“I didn't know if it meant the end of the night or that we would come back.

“I got my energy back for the third set, a momentum shift was good for me. It was also good that I was serving first.

“I played a cleaner third set. I was clear with my game plan. It was good to win two matches today.”

Elsewhere, former world number one Novak Djokovic also won his second match of the day to set up a semi-final clash with Marin Cilic.

Djokovic, a five-time finalist here who has never broken through, is aiming to lift the trophy at the only one of the Masters 1000 series events that he has never won.

The Serb tenth seed followed up a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 third-round defeat of holder Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the day of a rainy week by beating Milos Raonic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

It was the ninth win without a loss for Djokovic in the series with the Canadian.

“I've played five finals here,” Djokovic said. “But I do wish to win the title.

“I'm here to enjoy a sport that I love, I've got plenty of motivation. I'm in a good position, so I'll take it step by step.”

Djokovic had to come from behind in the first and third sets, and helped seal the victory with a break for 5-3 in the third.

“Milos is one of the best servers in the game,” Djokovic said. “Just a few points decided the winner.

“It's tough to play against someone serving so big.”

Cilic put out Spanish 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (9/7), 6-4.

“I haven't played any matches on the centre court. I feel and I heard that it's completely different. It's much faster,” Cilic said.

“Definitely Novak is playing really well. His level was definitely high and he's in definitely really good form.

“We played tough match in Queen's, but that's grass and definitely different. So I have to get ready and give it a full shot.”

Women's top seed Simona Halep recovered from 1-4 down in the opening set to defeat Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-1.

It was the second fightback of the day for Halep, who came from a break down in each set to overhaul Australian 16th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 6-4 several hours earlier in the third round.

Double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova reached the final four over Belgian Elise Mertens 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.

She will face Kiki Bertens after the Dutchwoman defeated Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-3.

ROGER FEDERER

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his "highest level" after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?
Is it the end of the line for Roger? Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule. Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men's Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer's mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain's Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

'Golden' ambitions

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer's last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.

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