MASON, OHIO - Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 on Friday and advanced to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open, a tournament he has won an unprecedented five times already.
The second-seeded Federer was on the offensive from the first point as he evened their career series at 11 wins apiece and set up a semifinal against Milos Raonic.
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.”
Serena Williams needed only 58 minutes to beat Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3 on Friday on the women’s side, a dominating performance that left her feeling good about her chances of claiming one of the few titles she has never won.
“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.”
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. He had 18 in the third set alone, while Benneteau had just five.
“It was a strange match, for sure,” Wawrinka said. “Even when I was winning the first set, 6-1, I wasn’t playing well. I wasn’t moving well.”
Benneteau reached the semifinals in Cincinnati for the first time by taking advantage of Wawrinka’s erratic serve.
“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.
Benneteau will take on David Ferrer, who defeated Tommy Robredo 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, reaching the semifinals for the first time in 11 appearances in Cincinnati. Raonic breezed past Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-0 in 57 minutes.
Williams 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.”
The eighth-seeded Jankovic never pressured her. Jankovic didn’t serve an ace and hit only five winners.
“I felt slow,” she said. “For some reason, I was late on shots. I didn’t do anything well. She didn’t have to do a lot. She played her game, and I didn’t do anything to disrupt that.”
Williams will face Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) 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.”
Radwanska won her 14th career singles title in Montreal on Sunday and had beaten Wozniacki the previous three times they played, all on hard courts.