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Federer fires to join Djokovic in Shanghai semis

AFP  |  Shanghai 

blazed into the Masters semi-finals with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over as the Swiss great's title defence belatedly caught fire on Friday.

The 20-time champion and top seed will meet 13th seed on Saturday after the Croatian defeated unseeded Australian 7-5, 6-4.

The other semi-final tees up against young German star Alexander Zverev, just the second time they will have met.

The 37-year-old Federer was forced to battle through the first two matches of his title defence, first to and then

But he put Nishikori under the cosh immediately, breaking the eighth seed in the first game of both sets, though the Japanese did well to recover and force a second-set tie break.

Federer had to play catch-up in the tie break and said afterwards that he was relieved to avoid another three-setter.

"I saw Kei was playing extremely aggressive, especially towards the end of the second set," said the number two, who has been content with his form this week despite being pushed to three sets in his other two matches.

"I knew I had to step it up too, and I was able to do it, so it's a good feeling to have, no doubt about it." - wary of Zverev -


said that he was relishing facing "top player" Zverev after the 14-time champion beat 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

Djokovic saved set point in the opener before taking control of the tie break and the second set to dump out the South African seventh seed.

The 31-year-old from is in blistering form, winning Wimbledon, the Masters and in recent months, after having in February.

The second seed is desperate to grab injured Rafael Nadal's year-end number one ranking.

Djokovic and Zverev met on clay in the final of the Masters in May last year, the 21-year-old German winning 6-4, 6-3.

Djokovic, who endured a turbulent last season with and off-court issues, said they were "both different players" now.

"I wasn't -- I feel like -- playing as well as I'm playing today," he warned. But also he has improved a lot and he has established himself as a top It's going to be definitely a close match." Touted as a potential future multiple winner, fourth seed Zverev eased past to reach his first semi-final.

The 6-4, 6-4 victory over the 11th-seeded Briton seals Zverev's place in the season-ending ATP Finals in next month, which bring together the top eight men.

The top four players in the world -- Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and -- had already qualified for Zverev is ranked fifth. Zverev, now under the tutelage of Ivan Lendl, said he is pleased with his overall progress, even if a maiden Grand Slam remains elusive.

"I think every year you feel more mature. Every year you spend on tour, you feel kind of different," he said.

"Last year was the first time I kind of broke through to the top 10 and was a top-five

"It's always easier to get there -- but then staying there is always the tougher part.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, October 12 2018. 22:25 IST