Read & Watch: Seven-Time Champ Federer Sets Wawrinka QF Clash

Federer to face Wawrinka for the 24th time

It might be Roger Federer’s first tournament since Wimbledon, but the Swiss certainly isn’t showing it with his tennis.

The seven-time champion advanced to the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-1, 7-6(6) victory against Argentine Leonardo Mayer on Friday afternoon, and he will play compatriot Stan Wawrinka later in the evening. 

"It’s been a while since I’ve played two matches in one day. Apparently it was 2004. I did play a lot of practice twice a day so if I won’t be ready for today, I’ll never be ready," Federer told ESPN on court after the match. "I’m excited. Playing against Stan obviously is a treat. Ten years ago and two days ago we won the Olympic gold together and we’re still playing... I'm very excited to play against him and it’s great for him, I’m happy to see him back again."

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Federer, who went just 1-4 in his first four appearances in Cincinnati, has now won 43 of 47 matches here since. He missed the tournament in 2016 (left knee) and 2017 (back), but his victory against the World No. 50 extends his winning streak in Ohio to 12 matches and 15 sets in a row.

The 37-year-old lost just four first-serve points in his triumph, and did not face a break point. Mayer played well in the second set, giving himself an opportunity to force a decider for the second time in three matches against the World No. 2, but Federer extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead in their series to 3-0. He is not concerned about having to play a second match later Friday.

"We’re used to waiting. We came through the juniors where you played two, three matches and it rains and it stops and it rains again, so we’re used to it," Federer said. "I’m happy we got some play in already today and excited that the tournament is up and running again."

Federer will next face compatriot Wawrinka, who is playing his best tennis since undergoing two left knee surgeries last year. The former World No. 3 beat Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 6-3 in one hour, 23 minutes.

Wawrinka was just 8-12 in 2018 entering the tournament, but he has shown that he is moving closer to his best form with impressive wins over 12th seed Diego Schwartzman, Japanese star Kei Nishikori and now Fucsovics, who tested him in a marathon three-setter last week in Toronto.

"Today it was important for me to start by being well, warmed, and ready. I'm really happy with the game, winning in two sets," Wawrinka said. "For sure it's completely different than last week. I think last week I gain a lot of confidence by winning two matches, losing to Rafa. This week I'm feeling much better with my tennis. So I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals. It's really good for me. I need to enjoy and get ready for tonight."

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The Swiss is currently No. 151 in the ATP Rankings, but since he did not compete after Wimbledon in 2017, he has no points to defend for the rest of the season. A trip to the quarter-finals guarantees him at least 180 points, which is double the most points he has pocketed at any other tournament this campaign.

Federer leads Wawrinka 20-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, defeating his compatriot in straight sets in the 2012 Cincinnati semi-finals. All three of Wawrinka’s victories in their rivalry have come on outdoor clay.

"It will be really nice to play against him," Wawrinka said. "I had a really tough year with my injury. It was really tough. So now I'm happy to be back. I'm happy to be winning some matches."

Did You Know?
Federer has made the quarter-finals in Cincinnati in eight consecutive appearances dating back to 2009. The year before, he lost to Ivo Karlovic in the third round in a third-set tie-break.