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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, August 11, 2017

Roger Federer

Attacking net with fervor, Roger Federer swept Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-4, 6-4, reaching his first Montreal semifinal in a decade.

Photo credit: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty

Ladling a half-volley winner that faded in the front court, Roger Federer made the ball dance and dive extending his dominance of Roberto Bautista Agut.

Attacking net with fervor, Federer carved out a 6-4, 6-4, victory stretching his winning streak to 15 matches and charging into the Montreal semifinals for the first time in a decade.

Watch: Shapovalov Stuns Nadal

Masterful ball and body control helped Federer win 19 of 25 trips to net and rush the world No. 16 right off the court beating Bautista Agut for the seventh time in as many meetings.

"I think it pays off playing aggressive here in Montreal plus I feel comfortable at net so why not spend some time there rather than slugging it out at the baseline," Federer told ESPN's Brad Gilbert. "I got some rhythm going. I’m very pleased."

The world No. 3 improved to 34-2 on the season and now stands two victories removed from his third Masters title of the season after sweeping the sunshine doubles in Indian Wells and Miami earlier this year.

Forward ambition has put Federer on pace to surge back to the top of tennis.

The second-seeded Swiss can seize 7,545 ranking points by capturing his third Rogers Cup championship this weekend. That run—combined with archrival Rafael Nadal’s loss to Canadian wild card Denis Shapovalov last night—means Federer can regain No. 1 winning Montreal and equaling or bettering Nadal’s result in Cincinnati.

“I mean obviously I was following it because I wanted to see if Rafa was going to make it,” Federer told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert. “I would have been really happy for him because I know he hasn’t been there for some time…

“Now that Rafa is out obviously I know I can make big strides especially if I were to go further than the semis. But I know it’s all connected to great play.”

Serving-and-volleying on a second serve, Federer flicked a slick half-volley winner capping a love hold for 2-all.

Hitting lines twice to open the seventh game, the Spaniard held strong through a two-deuce game curling a forehand winner down the line for 4-3.

Jolting athleticism remains a major Federer asset.

A few days after celebrating his 36th birthday, Federer should spring in his legs launching airborne to snap off a smash for love-30. Pressuring his opponent’s forehand, Federer attacked drawing an error for double break point in the ninth game.

On the second break point, a rattled Bautista Agut scattered his first double fault donating the break and a 5-4 lead after 30 minutes.

Gliding forward for a comfortable forehand volley winner, Federer had won 10 of 11 trips to net gaining triple set point.

Flashing his third ace down the middle, the two-time champion collected a one-set lead after 34 minutes.

Spooked by Federer’s smooth forward pressure, Bautista Agut double faulted to confront break point in the opening game of the second set. Luring the Spaniard forward with a short angled slice, Federer buzzed a pass Bautista Agut could not handle, seizing his third straight game.

In cruise control to that point, Federer stumbled sticking a forehand down the line into net to drop serve for the first time all day.

Applying forward pressure to force Bautista Agut into awkward passes, Federer attacked and drew a floated lob error posting the third straight break for 2-1.

Denying successive break points, including dotting the box with his fifth ace, Federer came through a tricky hold for 4-2.

A lethargic-looking netted backhand gave Federer a pair of match points at 68 minutes.

When Bautista Agut netted a final forehand, Federer was through to the Montreal final four for the first time in a decade.

Continuing his quest for a sixth tournament title this year, Federer will carry a 14-0 Masters record into the semifinals tomorrow.


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