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Federer Reaches 10th Basel SF; Del Potro Battles Back

Basel, Switzerland

Federer© AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Federer dismissed Benoit Paire in just 54 minutes.

World No. 1 Roger Federer remained on course for a sixth Swiss Indoors Basel title on Friday, dismissing Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals at his hometown event for the 10th time.

Federer took 24 of his 25 first serve points and broke the Frenchman twice in each set to advance in just 54 minutes. The top seed has won 32 of his last 33 matches in Basel and is aiming to get through to his seventh straight final at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament.

“I was very happy with the match, the way it went,” said Federer. “I was able to mix up my game, play aggressive and take it to Benoit. He struggled after that. He didn’t have his best day I think, but maybe I pushed him there, so I’m happy with the outcome.”

The Swiss has captured a season-leading six tour-level trophies in 2012. He won his 17th major title at Wimbledon (d. Murray) and triumphed at three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells (d. Isner), Madrid (d. Berdych) and Cincinnati (d. Djokovic). He is looking to defend crucial points in the battle for the year-end South African Airways ATP No. 1 Ranking with Novak Djokovic. Last year, Federer finished the 2011 season on a 17-match win streak, lifting three straight trophies in Basel, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

On Saturday, Federer will take on wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu. Federer has won all five of their previous meetings.

“It’s nice seeing him playing so well,” Federer said. “He’s also had a couple tough matches here this week. He’s a good player. He’s got one of the best backhands in the world. He’s got a good fighting spirit and he’s my age, so we’ve known each other for a really long time. I’m looking forward to the match.”

Mathieu edged Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(2), 7-6(4) in a first-time meeting. The 101st-ranked Frenchman claimed the hard-fought win in just over two hours. Mathieu is through to his second semi-final of the year (Gstaad) after returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season.

“It was not easy, especially in the second set,” said Mathieu. “He played a good game on my serve when I was 5-3 up, and it was really tight at the end of the match. I was really happy with the victory.”

One day after securing his qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Juan Martin del Potro booked his place in the semi-finals with a three-set win. The second-seeded Argentine withstood 20 aces as he fought back from a set down to defeat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2.

"He had the chance to win the match in the second set, but I held him back in the tie-break," said del Potro. "In the end I played much better. I broke his serve early in the third set and that gave me the confidence to play my game until the last point. That was the key to the match."

The 24-year-old del Potro improved to a 60-14 match record on the season after winning his eighth match in a row. The Tandil native came into Basel on the back of victory at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. Zemlja). He was also victorious earlier in the season at the Open 13 in Marseille (d. Llodra) and the Estoril Open (d. Gasquet).

In the semi-finals, del Potro will face Richard Gasquet, who denied Mikhail Youzhny of Russia his 400th match win as he prevailed 6-2, 7-6(5) in one hour and 44 minutes.

The 26-year-old Gasquet will now move into 10th in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London, with two places still to be claimed in the eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He has compiled a 42-20 match record this season, highlighted by winning the Thailand Open title last month in Bangkok (d. Simon).

"[Youzhny] is a tough opponent and he's playing very well, especially indoors, so I'm really happy to win," said Gasquet. "It's my first semi-final in Basel so I will do my best to reach the final here. I will try to do my best [in the Race To London]. I'm not too far away. I need to get to the finals here and play well in [Paris] Bercy."

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