By Phoebe Ho
TORONTO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Second-seeded Roger Federer and Feliciano Lopez were heading into the semis after four separate three-setters in the Rogers Cup quarterfinals in Toronto pushed the last eight to the brink on Friday.
It's icing on the cake for Federer, who earned his fourth birthday win by 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 against Ferrer in a one-hour 41-minute match.
Besides getting to advance to the semis though, the Swiss also got a show of love from fans who spontaneously belted out a "Happy Birthday" song during a changeover.
"I think Canadians in particular are very open with their emotions. They make me feel very welcome here," he said.
And having that kind of support during an intense match is always a good thing, he said.
"It's nice to have crowd support for either player. It creates sort of an electric atmosphere," said Federer. "Clearly you tend to get more nervous sometimes, but you can also really strive with those positive emotions."
The now 33-year-old player dominated the first set and won it easily in just 35 minutes. The second set started off in the same way as Federer took an early 2-0 lead after Ferrer sent the ball too wide at breakpoint. But the birthday boy couldn't close and started giving away points. Committing 21 unforced errors in the set compared to Ferrer's seven, he gave Ferrer a chance to get back into play to tie the set at 4-4, and then won it to force a third set.
"He played it tough. Getting back on even terms was something I could accept, but it was just more the end towards the second set I wasn't feeling it so much anymore in my racquet," explained Federer. "I was just not hitting the shots like I wanted them to be hit. Then my serve let me down a little bit."
Some birthday luck may have helped the Swiss out a little though at one point in the final set. During a game point, Federer lost his advantage after he double-faulted to put the game back at deuce, but stole the game with a bit of luck after the ball hit the net and toppled into Ferrer's court. He ran away with the three-point lead and clinched his semis match after smashing volley at match-point.
Many of the top seeds were ousted early on in the tournament this week, and Federer is now the last of the Top 3 to survive. He is set to play against Lopez, who upset the sixth-seeded Milos Raonic, a Rogers Cup finalist last year, with a 6-4, 6(5)-7, 6-3 victory. The Canadian's lacklustre performance allowed the Spaniard to clinch his victory even though he scored only half of the Raonic's 18 aces in the match.
At one point in the final set, Lopez fought off nine breakpoints in a 12-minute game to earn a 3-2 lead. But Lopez didn't take full credit for it.
"I went for the shots. My serve was working in all of the break points I think," said Lopez. "Some second serves I hit like 190, 180 second serve. They were in, and, you know, a little bit of luck, as I said in the court. I mean, to save nine break points in the same game, even though I played great most of them, I have to get a little bit lucky."
But Raonic kept his composure and got an early lead in the next game and scored an ace to tie the set once again at 3-all, but he quickly lost the edge with a number of unforced errors and missed opportunities. Lopez didn't take mercy on his friend and scored an ace at match-point to get into the semis.
"With Milos I have to be aggressive, because if not, he's going to dominate," he explained. "But I have been doing this game the whole week and it was working perfectly, so for me there was no reason to change playing Milos today."
Besides a semis match between Lopez and Federer on Saturday, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who upset the eighth-seeded Andy Murray, will face No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov after he defeated Kevin Anderson earlier in the day.