Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Swiss Indoors final on Saturday, setting up a rematch of their epic semi-final at the London Olympics.
Top-ranked Federer brushed aside Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 7-5, 6-4 after Del Potro eased to a 6-2, 6-2 win over third-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Federer has beaten Del Potro all six times they have met this season, though he was pushed to his limits on Centre Court at Wimbledon in August. Federer won 19-17 in the decisive third set.
“I’m excited to see how he is going to come out and play,” Federer said of the final. “We have had a couple of tough ones, at the French Open and particularly at the Olympics. I had a really hard time breaking his serve. The margins are extremely small.”
Del Potro let a two-set lead slip in their quarter-final at Roland Garros, and took the first set at the Olympics before losing the second on a tiebreaker.
“I was close in the Olympics and French Open, but I never beat him this year,” said the eighth-ranked Del Potro, who rebounded from the tough Olympics loss to win his bronze-medal match.
“He has all the shots. He’s a very, very complete player,” he said.
Federer, chasing his sixth title in seven years at his hometown event, fired 10 aces and never allowed Mathieu a break point chance.
Excellent anticipation at the net put Federer into position to hit a volleyed winner to create two set points in the first. He clinched it with a forehand winner.
Federer moved his opponent around the court in the final game before putting away an overhead to earn match point, and sealed victory when Mathieu netted a two-handed backhand.
Federer has a 13-2 career record against Del Potro, though one of the Argentine’s victories came in the 2009 US Open final.
“Now he is finally back to his real self again,” Federer said. “He looked really impressive today.” Del Potro, who won the Vienna title last week, said his play against Gasquet was “almost perfection. Now I have to play better tomorrow if I want to win this tournament.”
His eighth ace sealed his 61st victory of the season.
AP, VALENCIA, Spain
David Ferrer reached the Valencia Open final for a fourth time after defeating Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-4, 6-7 (7/5), 6-1 on Saturday.
The top seed will face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the final after the Ukrainian used his big serve to ease past Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-2 in the other semi-final.
“It was a complicated match,” Ferrer said. “He served well throughout and made it tough for me.”
After the fifth-ranked Ferrer controlled the opening set, the local favorite showed some strain from finishing his doubles with partner Juan Carlos Ferrero after midnight on Friday.
Dodig rallied to save two break points and force a second-set tiebreaker, where he converted a third set point by forcing the Spaniard into netting his volley.
Ferrer grabbed a 3-1 advantage in the decisive set after Dodig double-faulted. He then hit a running approach shot to break Dodig again before serving out the win in 2 hours, 42 minutes.
“I tried to forget the second set. In the third set I tried to be more consistent because I knew that he was wearing down,” Ferrer said. “I knew that in the third I needed to be consistent because so much depended on the first serve and a break could be critical.”