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Federer cruises into hometown quarter-finals

Basel (Switzerland) Oct 26: Roger Federer eased into the quarter-finals of his hometown tournament brushing aside Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 6-4 in the Swiss Indoors second round.

After looking less than his daunting best in a wobbly opening-round win over Germany's Michael Berrer on Tuesday, the world number one was in complete control against his teenage opponent.

The 19-year-old world number 49 was already 5-0 down before managing to hold his first service game.

Broken for the third time at the start of the second set, he then produced a minor stir by breaking Federer to level the set at 1-1.

But the Swiss simply upped his game, breaking back in front immediately before cruising through his remaining service games.

The closest Federer came to embarrassment was during the on-court interview afterwards, when quizzed about the increasing physical stature of his opponents.

Giving away five centimetres in height to Berrer and ten to Del Potro, Federer was asked if he was starting to feel small when he looked around the locker room.

''I try not to look too closely,'' the world number one managed to splutter before giggling his way through the rest of the interview.

''It's part of what makes playing at home different, having the chance to speak to the crowd in my own language,'' Federer later told a media conference.

''We don't do that many live interviews on court apart from some of the big tournaments and even there it's usually just a question about how I feel.

''But I've known (interviewer) Heinz Guenthardt for a long time now and we've had a few good conversations like that so hopefully we can keep it up.'' Federer, who won the Basel title for the first time last year, should have no size problems to deal with in the quarter-finals when he comes up against the one centimetre shorter Nicolas Kiefer.

The German world number 64, who has lost his last eight meetings with the Swiss, also enjoyed a comfortable win yesterday, beating Austria's Stefan Koubek 6-3 6-2.


American fourth seed James Blake could not find a way past towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic, losing their second round encounter 4-6 7-6 6-4.

The Croatian world number 25, who has now won three out of four meetings with Blake, relied heavily on his favourite weapon, firing 24 aces to the American's nine.

Karlovic now goes on to face Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals, after Berdych downed unseeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5 6-4.

''It was tough to get a rhythm when he's hitting two or three aces a game,'' said Blake.

''I was playing well but he takes the racket out of your hand on most points.'' While Blake's defeat damaged the world number seven's chances of reaching next month's season-ending Masters Cup, Fernando Gonzalez improved his own prospects of by booking a place in the Basel quarter-finals.

Second seed Gonzalez, seventh in the race for the eight-field tournament, overcame Croatian qualifier Roko Karanusic 6-4 7-6 to set up a meeting with unseeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen.

Nieminen, the world number 29, secured his fifth quarter-final place of the season with a 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over Argentine sixth seed Guillermo Canas.


Read more about: federer james blake
Story first published: Friday, October 26, 2007, 14:08 [IST]
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