Mercedes Cup: Roger Federer passes Ivan Lendl in match wins list
With Roger Federer back on grass, can records be far away? The 17-time Grand Slam champion became the sole owner of the second spot in the Match Wins Leaderboard of the Open Era when he reached the semi-finals of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart with a 7-6(2), 7-6(1) victory over qualifier Florian Mayer on Friday.
The win, which was the 1072nd of his career, helped him break free from a tie with the eight-time Major champion Ivan Lendl. American tennis legend Jimmy Connors, who amassed 1256 wins, is the only one ahead of him.
The Swiss did not have the 1 hour 25 minutes match going totally his way. He recovered from a break down and then had to save three set points in the second set before enforcing a tie-break.
Up next for the maestro is one of the hottest players of this season, who also happens to have been the last man to have inflicted a defeat on the 34-year-old. Dominic Thiem, seeded third at this tournament, won his 43rd match this year when he edged past Mikhail Youzhny, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
The young Austrian, who broke into the top 10 this week, beat Federer in the third round of the Rome Masters last month.
Del Potro in semi-finals
Meanwhile, former champion Juan Martin del Potro is slowly getting back to his best. The 2009 US Open winner, who had the better part of the last two years hampered due to two wrist surgeries, returned once again to the semi-finals.
The Argentine rallied from a set down to prevail 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-0 over the fourth seed Gilles Simon. In an extremely dominant performance in the deciding set, the 27-year-old conceded just three points on his serve.
This is his second semi-final of the year after reaching the last-four in his first comeback tournament at Delray Beach in February.
He has a tough proposition next as he faces former runner-up Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German posted his first win over Radek Stepanek since 2007 when he bested the Czech 6-4, 7-5 in the fourth quarter-final of the day.
Kohlschreiber beat Del Potro comfortably in straight sets in their most recent showdown in the quarter-finals of Munich on clay in April.