Shanghai, October 12: Roger Federer produced a vintage performance as he overcame a determined Kei Nishikori to reach the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
The top seed turned on the style in Friday's last match on court, recording a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory after one hour and 51 minutes.
Having needed three sets to get beyond Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut in his last two outings, Federer appeared in danger of needing a decider again when he trailed 4-1 in the second-set tie-break.
However, with his first serve suddenly firing again, the Swiss reeled off six successive points to remain on course to retain the title he lifted last year with victory over Rafael Nadal.
Nishikori was hit with an early blitz by Federer, the defending champion eventually breaking in the opening game of the contest at the sixth attempt.
He recorded another to move 4-1 ahead and while Nishikori claimed one back, Federer served out the set to love in the 10th game.
What. A. Match. @rogerfederer battles past an in-form Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(4), reaching his seventh semi-final of the season .
How impressed are you with the top seed's level? pic.twitter.com/2nlZqQCjvU— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) October 12, 2018
The second set followed a similar pattern at the start, the 20-time grand slam winner taking the first game after creating a break-point opportunity with a sizzling backhand return.
After failing to take opportunities in the second and fourth games, Nishikori finally drew level at 3-3 before going on to seize control in the tie-break.
Yet the eighth seed from Japan saw his advantage wiped out in a hurry as Federer roared back to set up a last-four clash with Borna Coric, who had defeated Australian Matthew Ebden 7-5 6-4 earlier in the day.
The 13th seed from Croatia will hope for a repeat result of the pair's last meeting - he stunned his illustrious opponent at the Gerry Weber Open final in June to claim the title.