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By Chris Oddo

Federer, Rotterdam, 2013 (February 14, 2013) -- Two-time ABN Amro champion Roger Federer breezed past Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal with Frenchman Julien Benneteau on Thursday in Rotterdam.

Federer faced only one break point on the evening, and he won 31 of 34 first service points to keep the 24-year-old Dutchman at bay.

Federer, the 2005 (d. Ljubicic) and 2012 (d. Del Potro) champion broke early in the first set and maintained his lead the whole way with crisp serving, aggressive forehands, and more than a few shoestring volleys.

De Bakker would get his only look at a break point in the fourth game of the second set, but Federer's serve handcuffed him and he deposited his return into the net. Already down a break by that point, it would be his only chance to draw even.

Still, De Bakker can take solace in the fact that he kept things close against Federer, saving five of seven break points and hammering some big forehands for winners when he had the chance.

"He is an excellent player," a cordial Federer said afterwards. "He can be much higher in the ATP rankings than he is now. I'm happy, the conditions are very quick and Thiemo is a dangerous opponent."

Federer, one shy of John McEnroe on the ATP's all-time title list, will continue his bid for a 77th ATP title when he plays Benneteau on Friday. Federer famously was taken to five sets by Benneteau at Wimbledon before eventually winning his 7th title there. Weeks later, they met again on the grass at the Olympics, and Federer defeated the Frenchman 6-2, 6-2 for his fourth win in five tries against him.

Second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, taking a well-played 7-6(5), 6-3 decision over qualifier Ernests Gulbis.

Last year's runner-up will face Jarkko Nieminen in the quarterfinals. Nieminen defeated Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Marcos Baghdatis, who handed Richard Gasquet his second loss of the season, will face Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals tomorrow, while Gilles Simon will meet Martin Klizan in another.

(Photo Credit: AP)


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