MIAMI: Roger Federer is preparing himself for a barrage of Kevin Anderson big serves after the Swiss superstar sealed his place in the ATP and WTA Miami Open quarter-finals in just 61 minutes on Wednesday.
Federer is celebrating 20 years at this tournament and edged closer to his fourth title in South Florida as the up and coming Russian Daniil Medvedev was swatted aside 6-4 6-2.
Next up for the 20-time Grand Slam-winning legend is the South African world number seven who famously beat the 37-year-old at Wimbledon in 2018 over five dramatic sets.
That triumph was Anderson’s only win over Federer in six attempts – and the only time he’s won a set.
But having classily dealt with Medvedev, the former world number one knows it won’t be as straightforward with the 6 ft 8 in Anderson at the other end of the Hard Rock Stadium’s center court.
“I think if you beat me at Wimbledon, you’ve got my attention,” smiled Federer.
“He’s got a great serve and I’m happy he’s playing again after his injury.
“So from that standpoint, I know what I’m about to expect tomorrow. The matches I have played against him I know can be extremely close always, just because of the sheer possibilities that he has on the serve.
“I believe that probably the best surface for him is this kind of a type of hard court here in the States where he’s spent a lot of his time practising, as well.
“I’ve just got to make sure I protect my serve very well and slice maybe sometimes, get into the rallies, and then find a way. So it will be interesting to see how it’s going to go.”
The key moment against Medvedev came towards the end of the first set, Federer breaking serve for 5-4 – a game which saw him win a 34-stroke rally – before saving three break points on his own serve to seal the first set.
– Missed opportunity –
The missed opportunity seriously hurt Medvedev who capitulated once he was broken in the first game of the second.
“Holding at the end of the first set was very important but in the second I played well and really went for my shots,” added Federer who won 81% of points on his first serve and finished the match on 85%.
Defending champion John Isner, meanwhile, powered his way to the semi-finals as Roberto Bautista Agut, who sent world number one Novak Djokovic crashing out in the previous round, was seen off 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 ,(7-5).
Isner will face Canadian teen sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last four.
The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime became the youngest ever Miami semi-finalist after seeing off world number 13 Borna Coric 7-6 (7/3) 6-2.
“It feels surreal to get this far, especially as I came through qualifying, ” said Auger-Aliassime. “I just tried to impose myself from the start.”
In the women’s draw, Simona Halep moved closer to reclaiming her world number one crown after a well-executed 6-4 7-5 triumph over China’s Wang Qiang.
Following Petra Kvitova’s exit on Tuesday, Halep needs only to reach Saturday’s final to knock Naomi Osaka off the top of women’s tennis after being deposed following the Japanese’s second major win at the Australian Open earlier this year.
Halep’s recovery from 1-5 down in the second set showed the kind of mental toughness displayed by only the very best and the Romanian is looking in good shape to land her first Miami title, even if she’s not overly consumed about the prospect of reclaiming the number one tag.
“It doesn’t mean everything to get back to number one. It’s more important to finish the year in that position,” said the number two seed. “But if I do it, I will be very proud.”
Halep will meet world number seven Karolina Pliskova in the last four on Thursday after she won the battle of the Czechs with Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 6-4.
“The first set was very close, she played well but I just tried to be more aggressive, ” said Pliskova after reaching her third semi-final of 2019.
“A match against Simona is always intense.”