Basel:Swiss star Roger Federer overcame late resistance from Italy's Simone Bolelli to score a 6-2, 6-3 victory into his third consecutive semi-final at the Swiss Indoors tennis championship.
Federer led a set and 5-2 against the world No. 42 but was put temporarily on hold as the outsider saved three match points in the eighth game. The Swiss, who has won the last two editions, closed out on Friday evening in 68 minutes with a finishing display which produced two aces and a service winner.
The hometown top seed will play on Saturday against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez after the Dubai finalist beat fourth seed James Blake 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).
Blake missed all eight of his break point chances and struck nearly 20 unforced errors as his late bid for a place in the year-end Masters Cup next month in China goes down to the wire.
He and at least half a dozen other contenders have it all to play for from Monday in Paris as the regular season on the ATP ends.
"Bolelli's difficult so I had to stay alert," Federer said. "But this was the optimum result for me, I'm very pleased."
Argentina's David Nalbandian earned the chance to take revenge for a loss a week ago to Davis Cup teammate Juan Del Potro 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 over Benjamin Becker.
The Argentine second seed has a proud history at the event which he won in 2002, losing the next two finals. He has reached the final for the fourth time in seven appearances.
"I'm happy the way it went today for me," said Nalbandian. "I played well, especially in the tiebreaker and took my winning chances."
Del Potro, 20, the form player of the season with four straight titles over the summer, won his 35th match from his last 38 to improve to 44-11 this breakthrough season.
He advanced over Igor Andreev 6-4, 7-5 with ten aces from the Russian making no difference to the final score.
Del Potro beat Nalbandian in the Madrid third round last week, a year after losing to Nalbandian at the same stage a year ago.
"It's tough to play a friend and I have to be ready, I was able to beat him last week but every match is different," said the 20-year-old ranked ninth.
Nalbandian said he's looking forward to the battle. He said that he is ready for the challenge after his defeat of German qualifier Becker, the world number 137.
Del Potro is also chasing a spot in the Masters Cup while Nalbandian prefers to prepare without distractions for a massively important Davis Cup final against Spain in South America Nov 21-23.