Shanghai, Oct 13: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer again headlined in the ATP Shanghai Rolex Masters here on Friday, as the top two seeded players took out Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Frenchman Richard Gasquet respectively to advance into the semi-finals. World no.2 Federer claimed the third straight set victory this week, beating non-seeded Gasquet 7-5, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals, where he will play no.16 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, reports Xinhua news agency. Federer defended all his serves in the first set and broke in the 11th game to take a one-set lead. He then broke in Gasquet's next service game to jump to an early lead in the second set, but the 31-year-old refused to give in and broke back right away. It was in the seventh game that Federer broke for the third time which allowed him to close the match 6-4 after a 78-minute fight. No.16 seed Del Potro faced some big challenges on Friday in his tough three-setter 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki of Serbia. It was in the fifth game of the decider when the 29-year-old tried to run to the other side of the baseline but fell on his left wrist which had endured a surgery before. But the Argentine came back strong after a short treatment, winning three of the next four points to break and eventually take out his Serbian opponent. Top seed Rafael Nadal kept his hopes for the season's seventh title alive after defeating world no.9 Dimitrov in a high-quality 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3 game to set up a semi-final clash against Croatian Marin Cilic.
With this second victory over Dimitrov in as many weeks, the Spaniard also extended his winning streak to 15 matches since his third-time US Open success. "It was a very tough match. I think both of us, we played at a very high level of tennis. The conditions, of course, have been different today than the two previous matches," the Spaniard said after the match. "It was the first match for me outdoors, so it is a different story, but at the same time, I enjoyed. I think it was a great battle between two players who are playing all the time very focused." The second set was a close one as both players held all of their six serves and had to fight in the tie-break. It was the no.6 seed Dimitrov who produced a better performance, powering to win 5 consecutive points at 4-2 to close the tie-break 7-4 and level the set-score. "It's true that at the end of the second, that tie-break, I make couple of mistakes with the forehand. I made a bad decision going for the forehand in the 4-2 of the tie-break. I should have hit that ball with the backhand, but I decided to go with the forehand before he hit the ball. And then, two good serves for him, 5-4," the 31-year-old world no.1 said. But Nadal, striving for his maiden title in Shanghai, regained his form in the deciding set, broke the Bulgarian's service in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and eventually closed the two-hour and 32 minute battle with a 6-3 decider win. Earlier in the afternoon, no. 4 seed Cilic knocked out Albert Ramos-Vinolas with a straightforward 6-3, 6-4 victory.