MASON, Ohio — Roger Federer still has his touch in Cincinnati.
The Swiss star beat Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 on Friday night to advance to the semifinals in the Western & Southern Open, a tournament he has won an unprecedented five times. He’ll face Canada’s Milos Raonic.
The second-seeded Federer was on the offensive from the first point as he evened their career series at 11 wins apiece and showed he’s going to be tough to beat.
“I’m very happy with how my level of play has now sort of installed itself,” Federer said.
Murray had saved all five break points this week, holding service in 26 games. He fought off that many break points in his first two games against Federer, who kept the pressure on, broke him to go up 3-2 and served it out.
Murray appeared to gain a toehold when he broke Federer twice for a 4-1 lead in the second set, but Federer broke him twice to even it and then one more time to finish it off.
“Pretty poor tennis from that stage of the match,” Murray said. “I don’t remember hitting very many good shots after the 4-1 game.
“I blew it. Yeah. It’s a shame.”
While Federer is trying to make it a half-dozen trophies in Cincinnati, Serena Williams is still trying for No. 1.
Williams reached the semifinals on Friday, needing only 58 minutes to beat Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3 with a dominating performance that left her feeling good about her chances. One caveat: She’s felt this way before and lost.
“Sure, I’d love to win here,” Williams said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to put that pressure on myself. I’m trying to stay pressure-free.”
She advanced a day after Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Tommy Robredo, ending his quest for the only Masters title that has eluded him. Djokovic wanted to win the title this week and become the first player to take all nine Masters events.
Instead, it’s Williams who has the chance to go for an elusive title. She lost in the final last year to Victoria Azarenka, dropping a third-set tiebreaker. She has reached the semifinals only one other time (2006).
Williams’ overall performance Friday was one of the best of her six Cincinnati appearances.
“I feel really good,” said Williams, who had seven aces. “I feel I’m really relaxed now.”
Williams will face Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (5) to reach the semifinals in Cincinnati for the first time in seven tries.
Wozniacki made her WTA debut as a 15-year-old wild card in Cincinnati in 2005. She thinks about that moment whenever she returns, though it hasn’t helped her very much on the court.
“Of all the tournaments in the United States, Cincinnati is probably the tournament where I’ve done the least well,” she said. “So it’s nice to take that extra step.”
Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova survived a match full of poor serving and beat second-seeded Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Each player had her serve broken eight times during the 2-hour, 31-minute match. Sharapova double-faulted 11 times.
She’ll play ninth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who beat Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3.
In the men’s bracket, Julien Benneteau upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-1, 6-2. The third-seeded Wawrinka needed only 20 minutes to win the first set, then unraveled with unforced errors. Benneteau reached the semifinals in Cincinnati for the first time by taking advantage.
“I can feel that he became tight and he forced and he made some mistakes, some unforced errors that he doesn’t normally do,” Benneteau said.
He’ll face sixth-seeded David Ferrer, who knocked off Robredo 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the first time in 11 appearances in Cincinnati.