With plenty of pro-Federer support at his back, the Swiss star needed just 49 minutes to notch career victory No. 44 in Key Biscayne - second all-time behind Andre Agassi (61) - and run his record to 12-2 against Gasquet. But most pressing, Federer is just three wins shy from capturing third title in Key Biscayne, and his first since defeating Ivan Ljubicic in 2006. The win sets up a Federer-Nishikori match after the No. 20 seeded Japanese player pulled off a thrilling victory over No. 4 David Ferrer 7-6(7), 2-6, 7-6(9).
Coming into Wednesday’s match, Federer had 9 straight set victories over Gasquet with the first coming on the Hamburg clay in 2005. It was no different this time around as Federer won 88% (22-25) of his first serve points and added 5 of 6 break points. Federer took the first set in 24 minutes.
"The wind was the same for both of us, but I've had a lot of experience playing in it," Federer said. "I made him work for his points.
"It was a great match for me and I'm very pleased," said Federer, who broke five times and committed only eight unforced errors.
"Things went well on the court today. I served well. I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn't let him just make errors. I forced him to do stuff. It was a good match for me. The first set he had a chance to come back into the set,” said Federer. "I think that, you know, ended up being the key for the match almost for him.
"So, I think I played a good match. Just kept under pressure and hoped to win the match as quick as I could eventually, because you never know if there is going to be a change in condition or he’s going to start playing better, me worse."
On a recent resurgence, Federer, who slipped back into the Top 5 last week, is in line to face rival Novak Djokovic in the men’s semifinal. Despite losing to Djokovic in the finals of Indian Wells, Federer is playing some of his best tennis in recent history, evidenced by his run to the finals in Brisbane followed by semifinals showing in the Australian Open where he took down Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Last year, Federer became the oldest player to finish a season inside the Top 10 since Agassi (32) in 2005. He finished in the Top 10 for a 12th consecutive year, the first player since Pete Sampras to pull off the feat. But past history is the last thing on his mind, especially with Nishikori, a former practice partner, on deck. Federer expects a strong effort from a player he believes has matured, both physically and mentally over the last seven years.
"He had obviously a very difficult match with Ferrer, but a great one which everybody watched in the locker room and the player restaurant.," said Federer. "It was one of those thrilling end to the matches, you, know, into the tiebreaker with match points saved. It had the whole drama. Kei did a good job getting it done at the end.
"Clearly I think it's an advantage at this point now that I had a quick match today and he had a really brutal match against Ferrer. Can I take advantage of it? Can he recover quickly? We will see tomorrow. But I'm sure we will see him out on the court, and he will give it everything he has. He always has."
Date: 26th March 2014, Source: Sony Open Tennis