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Federer Tested By Bellucci; Del Potro Mantains Form

Basel, Switzerland

Top-seeded home favourite Roger Federer advanced to the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Wednesday, overcoming Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-5. Federer won 77 per cent of his service points and converted a late break in the deciding set to claim the second-round contest in two hours and three minutes.

“He’s a good player. He has a good serve, good intensity and good decision making from the baseline,” said Federer. “It was a close match today and I’m happy I came through. He had many chances on my serve. It was intense. I think he’s got some good power and usually plays well against the better players.

“I think I struggled on the return. I think I served smart. I played that part really well. I’m not too happy with my returning, but then again, he was a lefty and it was a change. Still, I would have hoped to have done a bit better.”

World No. 1 Federer is seeking his seventh tour-level trophy of the season, highlighted by his 17th major title at Wimbledon (d. Murray) and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Indian Wells (d. Isner), Madrid (d. Berdych) and Cincinnati (d. Djokovic). The 31 year old is locked in a battle with Novak Djokovic to finish as the year-end World No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Federer needs to defend crucial points, having won three consecutive tournaments, Basel, the BNP Paribas Masters and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to finish the 2011 season with a 17-match win streak.

Third seed Richard Gasquet cruised past Swiss wild card Marco Chiudinelli 6-1, 6-4 in 65 minutes to reach the quarter-finals at the event for the third time. Gasquet did not face a break point and won 28 of his 29 first serve points. The World No. 13 is entered the week in 11th position in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London.

Grigor Dimitrov edged Julien Benneteau 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 7-6(3) in two hours and 52 minutes to move through to the quarter-finals. Dimitrov fired 17 aces en route to beating the Frenchman for the second time this season. The Bulgarian improved to a 23-17 match record on the year.

In first-round action, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro maintained his run of form to improve his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in London from 5-12 November.

The second seed improved to 58-14 on the season after he dismissed Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 6-1 in 86 minutes at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament. Competing in Basel for the first time since 2008, del Potro won his third ATP World Tour title of the year on Sunday at the Erste Bank Open final in Vienna (d. Zemlja).

Paul-Henri Mathieu, reached the second round when he beat fellow wild card Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 40 minutes. Australian Marinko Matosevic overcame seventh seed Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2, 6-3 in 63 minutes for his 17th tour-level win of the year.

Benoit Paire defeated last week's Kremlin Cup champion Andreas Seppi, the No. 5 seed from Italy, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in just over 90 minutes. Seppi, who is the first Italian since Davide Sanguinetti in 2002 to win two ATP World Tour titles in a season, was broken five times as Paire hit eight aces and won 63 per cent of his service points.

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