Roger Federer kept his bid for a fifth Indian Wells ATP Masters title on track Thursday with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Kevin Anderson. The 32-year-old Swiss great needed just 69 minutes to book his berth in the final four, where he'll face Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Federer saved the only break point he faced in the match early in the opening set and clearly had the answer to the tall South African's booming serve. Federer broke Anderson at love in the final game of the first set, then broke him twice more before finishing the match with a love service game.
"You know, I gave myself chances and started with a few more returns in play at five-all," Federer said. "I was just also now in the match at that point, feeling good movement-wise, feeling good absorbing his pace. Then also being aggressive myself.
"I think the combination there in those 10 minutes, they all worked out for me. So it was big to win the set and then to go on to break early in the second. Then double break was like a bonus. From then on I was home basically.
"It was a really good match for me," Federer said.
It was a textbook performance from the former world number one, whose ranking has slipped to eighth in the world but is projected to rise to five next week by reaching the final four.
Despite the decline in his ranking after a modest 2013 campaign, Federer is enjoying a strong start to the season. He arrived in California off an impressive title run in Dubai, where he claimed his first ATP trophy in nine months.
Federer last played Dolgopolov in the Swiss Indoors in Basel in 2010, when the Ukrainian retired while trailing. But Federer said he had practised with Dolgopolov late last year and before the Dubai tournament, and is looking forward to facing him again.
"He was playing really well in practice," Federer said. "He really takes the ball early. He likes to take advantage of the fact when there is a short ball he just smashes it, and he's got a great serve.
"Definitely going to be some interesting shots out there."
Dolgopolov also used a stellar return game to neutralize the power of Milos Raonic in a 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final win over the big-serving Canadian.
First Masters semi-final for Dolgopolov
Dolgopolov, the world number 31 from Ukraine, has reached the semi-finals of an elite ATP Masters tournament for the first time with a run that included a third-round upset of world number one Rafael Nadal.
Dolgopolov knew that returning well would be crucial against Raonic. "I'm quite pleased how I anticipated on his serve and have seen the toss of the ball and was really, really concentrated to get those serves back," Dolgopolov said.
Raonic, playing his first tournament since injuring his ankle in reaching the third round of the Australian Open, was plainly astonished to find serves of 145 mph (233 kph) and 141 mph being sent back over the net to him. "He was a factor of why I didn't serve as well as I would have liked," Raonic said. "He made me think more than most people can on my service games."
After Dolgopolov had raced through the opening set, Raonic seemed to have found his range, taking a quick 3-0 lead in the second. However, Dolgopolov at last converted on his seventh break chance of the set in the fifth game, and broke Raonic again for a 4-3 lead that he wouldn't relinquish.
The quarter-finals conclude on Friday, when world number two Novak Djokovic takes on France's Julien Benneteau and American John Isner faces Latvian Ernests Gulbis.