Federer sees off Kiefer to reach Basel semis

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BASEL, Switzerland, Oct 26 (Reuters) Roger Federer enjoyed a routine 6-3 6-2 win over Germany's Nicolas Kiefer today to reach the semi-finals of his hometown tournament in Basel.

Defending last year's Swiss Indoors title, the world number one made an emphatic start -- breaking Kiefer's first service game to take an early 3-0 lead.

The German world number 64 put up some stiff resistance, breaking back to 3-2 with a brave run into the net.

But Federer replied in his usual fashion, regaining his advantage on Kiefer's next service game with a perfectly struck passing shot from deep behind the baseline.

The second set followed a similar pattern with Federer breaking ahead in the opening game.

Kiefer, who had lost his last eight meetings with Federer, continued to plug away, grabbing three break points off his opponent's next two service games but failing to convert any.

The Swiss had no such difficulty when Kiefer next came to serve, winning three break points with a beautifully disguised drop shot and successfully converting the first with a fierce forehand winner.

''It wasn't easy today,'' Federer insisted after winning the final game to love.

''My serve wasn't helping me out much with only the one ace near the end. But I was playing pretty solidly from the baseline and I hope I can continue that way for the rest of the week.'' UNSEEDED SEMI-FINALISTS The world number one will face either Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych or towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic in tomorrow's semi-finals.

The other semi-final will be contested by unseeded pair Jarkko Nieminen and Marcos Baghdatis.

Nieminen, the Finnish world number 29, pulled off a 6-3 7-5 win over Chilean second seed Fernando Gonzalez while Cypriot world number 24 Baghdatis downed French eighth seed Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 7-6.

''I haven't beaten too many top-10 guys this year, so this is big,'' Nieminen said after coming through a nervy climax against Gonzalez.

The Finn missed two match points at 5-4 and saved three break points at 6-5, before eventually wrapping up his first win over the world number eight.

By reaching the quarter-finals Gonzalez, who won the Basel title in 2005, did at least improve his already strong chances of reaching next month's season-ending Masters Cup.

After picking up an additional 12 qualifying points before his defeat to Nieminen, Gonzalez is now guaranteed to start next week's Paris Masters as the second best-placed contender for the three remaining Masters Cup berths.

''I'm not secure yet but I have really good chances to make it and that is my goal for the rest of the season,'' Gonzalez said.

REUTERS AB PM0015

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