Facing one of his toughest career opponents, Roger Federer fought for more than two and a half hours to make it past Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Friday, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4.
It was a battle from the beginning, and the first set could easily have gone Simon’s way—he was originally up 5-2, and even had a set point at 6-5 on Federer’s serve. After sneaking out that first set, Federer dropped the second set, but then stormed out to a 4-1 lead in the third. Simon made one last push, breaking back and evening up the decider at 4-all, but Federer managed to close it out.
Federer has now reached the semifinals or better in 15 of 18 career appearances in Basel, including the last 12 times he’s played here. He’s won 18 matches in a row at the ATP 500-level event.
"It was a tough start to the match—I was down right away in the score—but I was able to fight back and naturally started to feel better about my game," Federer said afterwards. "The second set was a bit back and forth. Unfortunately I couldn't close it out. But Gilles was good there. And with the set lead I think I was able to stay calm—even though I lost that second set, I wasn't too frustrated.
"I got an early lead in the third, and sure Gilles came back, but I found a way to win it, which was the most important thing."
Federer, who lost his first two career meetings against Simon, has now beaten the Frenchman seven times in a row.
"I struggled early on against him, but since then I've been able to figure him out a little bit better," Federer said of Simon. "Today was fun. The crowd was amazing today, so I really had a good time."
Awaiting the first-seeded Federer in Saturday’s semifinals will be No. 7 seed Daniil Medvedev, who surprised fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last quarterfinal of the day on Friday, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Federer and Medvedev have played just once before, in the second round of the Masters 1000 event in Shanghai just a few weeks ago, and Federer needed almost two hours to prevail, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
“Daniil started to serve well midway through the second set and third set, and it was tougher to get into his service games,” Federer said after that Shanghai battle. “Overall I thought it was a great match for me against a guy who’s been playing excellent and still has a lot to look forward to.
“I was impressed how he played.”
Medvedev could record the biggest win of his career if he can overcome the No. 3-ranked Federer—his biggest win to date came against a No. 3-ranked Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon last year.
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