Federer moves a step closer to 10th title in Halle
Roger Federer moved a step closer to 10th Gerry Weber Open title with a quarter-final victory over a plucky Matthew Ebden on Friday.
The 20-time grand slam champion saved two match points in his win over Benoit Paire on Thursday and was given another test in the last eight, but prevailed 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.
Federer must retain his title this weekend to remain top of the rankings and he will face Denis Kudla at the semi-final stage after overcoming a confident Ebden in their first meeting to stretch his winning run on grass to 19 matches.
The top seed, champion in four of the last five years in Halle, won 83 per cent of points on his first serve and came from 5-3 down in the second set to stay on course for a 99th singles title ahead of Wimbledon.
Federer lost just four points serve in a tight opening set and missed a chance to claim the only break when he thrashed a backhand long at 3-3.
The Swiss great dictated the tie-break, though, easing into a 3-0 lead and claiming another two mini-breaks to take the opening set.
Ebden saved three break points in his first service game of the second and was rewarded for his positive approach when he then broke for a 2-1 lead, only for Federer to respond with a break of his own immediately.
The 60-ranked Australian darted forward to put away forehand winner to go a break up at 4-3 before holding to move within a game of levelling the match, but Federer showed far more intensity as he unleashed a barrage of sublime backhands, winning four games in a row to seal victory.