Bidding to capture his first trophy in Montreal – and his third overall in Canada – Federer produced a spellbinding blend of power and finesse to outclass No. 12 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in 68 minutes on Friday afternoon at the Coupe Rogers. It was his seventh straight win over the Spaniard and Federer is now 34-2 on the season, which includes an ATP World Tour-high five titles.
“It pays off playing aggressively here in Montreal, plus I feel comfortable at net, so why not spend some time there instead of slugging it out from the baseline,” Federer, who won 21 of 25 points at the net, told Brad Gilbert of ESPN after the match. “I think I did a good job again, even though it was tough to control the ball. I got some decent rhythm going.
“Yesterday, I struggled against [David] Ferrer early on, so today was better. I was more committed and a step further in, adjusting my position slightly realising the ball does fly a lot.”
The second seed and 2004, 2006 champion (in Toronto) will now challenge Dutchman Robin Haase, who will appear in his first Masters 1000 semi-final on Saturday, for only the second time. The pair met in a Davis Cup World Group play-off in 2012 with Federer winning the rubber 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Bautista Agut held firm through the first eight games, effective on serve and also in keeping his position on the baseline. However, the pressure began to tell and the Spaniard faltered on first serve in the ninth game of the first set. Federer surprised Bautista Agut with changes in pace, angle and net rushes, breaking to 15 when his opponent struck his first double fault.
Federer and Bautista Agut exchanged service breaks at the start of the second set. But it was Federer, quick to attack the net off his powerful forehands, who seized control and moved Bautista Agut out of his comfort zone at the baseline.
“I wanted to play a great tournament, and I think I did a good week,” said Bautista Agut. “Today, I felt that I didn’t get into the rhythm of the match and I didn’t feel the ball well. Roger plays very fast and he didn’t want to rally with me, so he went for his shots. To be in the quarter-finals here in Montreal is a very good result for me, also getting hard-court matches under my belt.”
The 36-year-old Federer has not ranked as the World No. 1 since 4 November 2012. With no Emirates ATP Rankings points to defend in the rest of the 2017 season, the Swiss superstar could potentially add to his 302 weeks at the pinnacle of men’s professional tennis as early as 21 August.
“I obviously follow it, because Rafa had an opportunity to get to No. 1 this week,” Federer told ESPN television. “I thought it would take a few months to get my teeth into it, but now Rafa is out I obviously know I can make big strides. It’s all connected by great play, but I have to focus on the next match against Haase.”