Home hero Roger Federer won his 32nd match from his last 33 played at the Swiss Indoors on Friday, reaching the semi-finals in emphatic fashion over Benoit Paire with a 6-2, 6-2 score.
The 23-year-old French challenger knew he was in for the match of his life against the five-time tournament winner, who was born in Basel.
The force of the world No. 1 and top seed was on full display in his 54-minute quarter-final rout of the outsider, a victory studded with seven aces and four breaks of serve.
Federer was scheduled to take on fellow veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu yesterday.
Mathieu claimed his final-four spot with a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4) win over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
Second seed Juan Martin del Potro struggled into the semi-finals by beating South African Kevin Anderson 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, a day after qualifying for the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
The Argentine was to take a 4-1 lead into his match with French third seed Richard Gasquet, who kept alive his bid to secure one of the two remaining places in the eight-man event in London with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) defeat of sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny.
Federer suffered his only recent defeat in Basel in 2009 when he lost the final to Novak Djokovic.
The Swiss swept the opening set against Paire in 29 minutes, with two breaks.
The second set was equally brief as Federer moved within two wins of his seventh trophy of the season.
He broke Paire’s first two service games and sent down over a pair of aces for a 5-1 lead before closing it out.
“It was a good match for me and I’m pleased to be back in the semi-finals,” the world No. 1 said.
Del Potro, playing only his second event since coming back from a month off to heal a left-wrist problem, said he is keeping his mind on the task at hand.
“I’m not thinking about London yet, only about trying to play a couple of more matches here,” he said. “I’d love to be in the final, maybe against Federer, but I need to play better tomorrow if I want to win.”
Gasquet is also seeking one of the two remaining spots in the London field, trailing three rivals as he stands adrift of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Serb Janko Tipsarevic and Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.
Of the three, Tsonga and Tipsarevic quit first-round matches because of injuries in Valencia, while Almagro reached the quarter-finals, but lost to David Ferrer on Friday.
Nicolas Almagro’s chances of making next month’s World Tour Finals in London were dealt a blow when he was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by top seed and Spanish compatriot David Ferrer in the quarter-finals of the Valencia Open on Friday.
Almagro, seeded sixth at the indoor hard-court event, did not win a game on the Ferrer serve, but lost his own twice as he slipped to a 12th defeat in 12 career meetings with the world No. 5.
“I managed to get a lot of my first serves in and kept that up for the whole match,” Ferrer said, who has already qualified for the Tour Finals.
Ferrer, like world No. 12 Almagro a double champion in Valencia, played Ivan Dodig yesterday for a place in the final after the Croatian qualifier upset compatriot and seventh seed Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6.
Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine won the first eight games of his quarter-final against Marcel Granollers, before completing a crushing 6-0, 6-2 victory over the defending champion to set up a semi-final against Juergen Melzer.
Austrian Melzer, making his debut in Valencia and chasing a fourth career title, saw off promising Belgian David Goffin, 10 years his junior, 7-6, 6-4.
Next week’s Paris Masters will be the final chance for the remaining hopefuls to seal their spot at the Nov. 5 to Nov. 12 Tour Finals in London.