Federer Overcomes Simon, Wins 18th Straight In Basel; Thiem Blown Out In Vienna

Veteran Gilles Simon pushed Roger Federer to nearly the brink Friday in the Basel quarterfinals but fell short in a 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4 loss to the Swiss. Federer led with a break in the third but the Federer held firm and got an additional break and closed it out for his 18th straight victory in Basel.

“Sure, Gilles came back. But I found a way, which was most important, so I’m really happy now,” said Federer, who is into his 200th tour-level semi-final. “It was always going to be at times a frustrating match, because you’re always going to hit winners and errors against Gilles because he puts so many balls in play.”

In his 12th straight Basel semifinal, the 37-year-old Federer will now face Rising Russian Daniil Medvedev who got past Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Federer just beat Medvedev in Shanghai a few weeks ago.

“I think it’s going to be a tough semi. I’m very excited, apparently it’s my 200th semi-final on the Tour,” Federer said. “It’s something I’m very excited about, that it also happened here in Basel.”

Alexander Zverev will be in the other semifinal where he’ll take on surprising qualifier Marius Copil. Zverev was sharp again in a 7-5, 6-3 win over Roberto Bautista Agut.

“On this surface, he’s an unbelievable opponent,” Zverev said of the Spaniard. “His ball is so flat, the surface really slides it through and you don’t have a lot of chances to attack him, so you have to be patient.”

Copil got past American Taylor Fritz 7-6(6), 7-5.

“He’s playing the tournament of his life, probably,” Zverev said of Copil. “He’s obviously a big guy, big server, hits the ball very hard, and it’s going to be a tough match.”

In Vienna, Kei Nishikori blew out home favorite Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-1. Nishikori will meet Mikhail Kukushkin who ousted Marton Fucsovics.

Fernando Verdasco and Kevin Anderson collide in the other semifinal after both won by second set retirements. Verdasco beat Gael Monfils while Anderson advanced when Borna Coric retired in the second set.

“It’s definitely an interesting route to get through to the semis here,” said Anderson who also got a walkover from Jurgen Melzer this week. “Obviously it’s good to get through to the quarters, but then I’m playing my first match on Monday and not playing again until Friday, up against a very tough opponent, a very in-form player. It took me some time to find my feet.

“The good thing is that I feel fresh. I’ve played a lot of tennis this year and I know that if I can stick to what I’ve been doing, I’m going to be good, even if I haven’t played as much.”

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