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It’s Federer vs. Kyrgios in a blockbuster semifinal showdown in Stuttgart


By Ricky Dimon


It’s not his fault, of course, but Rafael Nadal reduced much of the clay-court swing to a snooze-fest. Roger Federer in all likelihood will do the same on grass. But for at least one day, tennis fans must bring out their popcorn.


Day five of the brief grass-court season will feature a showdown between Federer and Nick Kyrgios in the Mercedes Cup semifinals. And if there two previous meetings are any indication, it will not disappoint. Federer and Kyrgios had played a clean sheet of six tiebreakers in their six total sets contested against each other. The latter prevailed 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) at the 2015 Madrid Masters, while the former survived 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5) last year at the Miami Masters.


“We’ve had some brutal matches against each other–in Miami, in Madrid…,” Federer recalled. “He’s always dangerous, especially on the grass. I think I will enjoy playing against him.”


Despite Kyrgios’ talent and obvious prowess on grass, Federer may have been expecting a different semifinal opponent on Saturday. After all, the 23-year-old Australian had not played a singles match since mid-April in Houston due to an elbow injury. But Kyrgios perhaps picked up some confidence with a doubles title in Lyon and he has advanced so far this week by beating Maximilian Marterer and Feliciano Lopez in three sets.


Kyrgios fired 20 aces in each of his first two Stuttgart outings and he did not face a break point in either the first or third sets against Lopez.


Federer needed three sets to subdue Mischa Zverev on Wednesday, but the 36-year-old raised his level to defeat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. The Swiss held all 10 of his service games and did not face a single break point until he suddenly found himself trailing 15-40 while attempting to close out the match at 5-4 in the second set. Pella saw both break-point opportunities go by the wayside as Federer won the next four points to clinch his win.


Breaks in the seventh game of the opener and in the first game of set two were enough to propel the top seed across the finish line.


“I thought I was in good control today,” Federer noted. “I thought I served well. I didn’t give Guido many chances to get into my service games, except maybe the last couple. I was happy that I also got more rhythm today. I thought I was able to stay aggressive. I really wanted to cut down the length of the points as much as possible to see how that goes. I think that was a good decision.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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