Roger Federer edged closer to regaining world number one status as he strolled into the Stuttgart Open semi-finals with victory over Guido Pella.
The eight-time Wimbledon champion looked rusty in the opening set of his match with Mischa Zverev on Wednesday, but eventually found his rhythm to progress in three.
Getting past Pella was a much more straightforward task for the top seed as the graceful Federer cruised to a 6-4 6-4 victory in 66 minutes.
Federer is now one win away from reclaiming top spot in the rankings from Rafael Nadal, the 20-time grand slam winner only needing to reach the final to climb to number one.
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From the outset Federer looked much more assured than he did against Zverev, the appearance of his elegant backhand in game seven a sure sign his levels were high.
That shot down the line proved too good for his Argentine opponent and brought up the first break points of Friday’s clash – Pella saving the first before Federer converted a crisp cross-court forehand.
Having consolidated the break, Federer quickly moved a set ahead with a service game to love, Pella failing to even get a glimmer of an opening on his rivals serve.
Pella’s resistance had been dented and Federer wasted no time piercing another hole in his defence, the world number 75 falling 2-0 down at the start of the second set.
Federer continued to serve with power and precision, Pella only able to apply any kind of pressure when trailing 4-3.
His first break points of the match came with Federer serving for the win, the 36-year-old swatting them away with ease before the return of that trademark backhand sealed a 14th consecutive win on grass and a last-four berth.