Federer ends Mayer's title defence in Halle
Roger Federer dispatched defending champion Florian Mayer in straight sets on Friday to close in on a ninth title at the Gerry Weber Open.
No other ATP event has witnessed as much success for the 35-year-old, who overpowered his fellow veteran to win 6-3 6-4 in just 67 minutes of their quarter-final on grass in Halle.
Seeking to forget his surprise early exit from the Mercedes Cup, and having already beaten Yuichi Sugita and Mischa Zverev, Federer made a dominant start, securing a crucial break in the fourth game by stepping in off the base line and taking a rally ball early, firing off a deep forehand that Mayer could only net.
The German battled valiantly to save three sets points and hold serve four games later, but it was to no avail, Federer duly holding to love and taking the set with an ace to cap off a blistering 46-second service game.
Federer overcame an uncharacteristic wobble by saving two break points in his first service game of the second set and broke three games later, when a double fault followed by a wide backhand saw Mayer fall behind again.
The outgunned world number 134 resorted to trick shots late in the second set, briefly befuddling Federer with forehand slices, followed by a disguised cross-court forehand winner, which he swatted past the favourite to the delight of the crowd.
Such invention only earned the 33-year-old a stay of execution, though, Federer holding to seal it soon afterwards with a trademark off forehand winner into empty court.
The world number five's next opponent will be Karen Khachanov, who put a close friendship with Andrey Rublev aside in an all-Russian quarter-final to begin the day's play.
Khachanov came out on top after a tough battle that belied the 68 places between the compatriots in the rankings, the world number 38 winning 7-6 (10-8) 4-6 6-3 after his inconsistent opponent gave up two crucial breaks of serve in the deciding set.
Last year's beaten finalist against Mayer is a young man who could succeed Federer as a dominant force, the mercurial Alexander Zverev battling through two gruelling sets, during which neither player lost serve, before pulling away to beat Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-1) 6-1.
Up next for Zverev is Richard Gasquet, who shrugged off a wobble in the second set, when he gave up his only two breaks of the match, to get the better of Robin Haase, winning 6-1 3-6 6-1.