For­mer Wim­ble­don champs Fed­erer and Kvi­tova safely through to semis in warm-ups

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

TOP seed Roger Fed­erer reached the Halle Open semi­fi­nals yes­ter­day, beat­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Flo­rian Mayer 6-3 6-4 and edg­ing closer to a ninth ti­tle at the Wim­ble­don tune-up event.

The 18- time grand slam cham­pion, whose last ti­tle at Halle was in 2015, skipped the en­tire clay­court sea­son af­ter win­ning the Aus­tralian Open and claim­ing ti­tles at In­dian Wells and Mi­ami this year, to prepare for grass.

He will now face rapidly ris­ing tal­ent Karen Khachanov, who won his all-Rus­sian quar­ter-fi­nal against An­drey Rublev 7-6(8) 4-6 6-3 to reach his first tour semi-fi­nal of the year.

Fed­erer, who has yet to drop a set in Halle af­ter crash­ing out of Stuttgart in his first match back last week, lim­ited his serve-and-vol­ley game against the German, who is a fine re­turner and Mayer was bro­ken quickly as his op­po­nent won the first set.

The 33- year- old Mayer squan­dered two break points at 1-0 in the sec­ond set and paid the price as Fed­erer broke again and never re­lin­quished his ad­van­tage to win in just over an hour.

French­man Richard Gas- quet also reached the last four, edg­ing past Dutch­man Robin Haase, who had elim­i­nated sec­ond seed Dominic Thiem in the pre­vi­ous round, 6-1 3-6 6-1 and looked to be hit­ting top grass­court form at just the right time.

Gas­quet will now play the win­ner of the last quar­ter-fi­nal be­tween lo­cal favourite Alexan­der Zverev and Spa­niard Roberto Bautista- Agut later yes­ter­day. ● Czech Pe­tra Kvi­tova

moved into the Ae­gon Clas­sic semi-fi­nals with a 6-4 7-6(5) win over France’s Kristina Mlade­n­ovic yes­ter­day.

The sev­enth seed, twice Wim­ble­don cham­pion, is play­ing in her sec­ond tour­na­ment af­ter a lengthy lay­off with a hand in­jury, suf­fered dur­ing a knife at­tack at her home in De­cem­ber.

“Both of us play re­ally fast on this sur­face, the grass suits her game as well, so it was about a few points here in three, one or two key breaks in the match,” Kvi­tova said.

It took a sec­ond-set tiebreak and one hour 43 min­utes for Kvi­tova to se­cure the win which sets up a semi-fi­nal clash with com­pa­triot Lu­cie Sa­farova.

Sa­farova came through a marathon bat­tle with Aus­tralian Daria Gavrilova, tri­umph­ing 6-7(4) 6-3 7-6(5).

Sa­farova saved three match­points in the de­cid­ing set and ral­lied to win the last four points of the third set tiebreak to end the three-hour con­test on top.

“It was such an amaz­ing fight be­tween the both of us and I am so happy that I won,” Sa­farova said.

“I stayed pos­i­tive un­til the end. I had a few op­por­tu­ni­ties but she was serv­ing well. I just be­lieved that I could pull it out and win it,” she added.

Later yes­ter­day, Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza took on American Coco Van­deweghe and Aus­tralian Ash­leigh Barty faced Camila Giorgi of Italy. – Reuters

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