BASEL, Switzerland (AFP) - Roger Federer reached the Basel quarter-finals for the 15th time on Thursday (Oct 26) when he steamrolled Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 as the top seed stepped up his campaign for an eighth Swiss Indoors title.
Federer defeated Paire for the fifth time without a loss, mowing down the challenger in just 57 minutes in front of a sympathetic audience at the St Jakobshalle.
The 36-year-old Federer, winner of his last event in Shanghai this month, is seeking an ATP-leading seventh trophy this season as he aims for the weekend final in his hometown.
“I’m happy with how it went, I’m always ready for a tougher one,” Federer said. “I got a good start, got rolling.
“I was able to put more presure on him than him on me. I’ve had a good two first rounds. I thought the draw looked tough with (Francis) Tiafoe and Paire in my section. I’m a little surprised, to be honest.
“It’s not easy to win 1 and 3 indoors, this was a great start.”
Federer ripped through the opening set and piled on more pressure in the second after Paire took a massage treatment on his back after losing the opener.
World number two Federer remained in command as he broke Paire to love in the seventh game, with the French player sending down his second double fault to drop the game.
Federer made it a comfortable 5-3, with Paire sending a return well wide. The 19-time Grand Slam champion Swiss earned a match point in the ensuing game, which his opponent saved with a service winner.
But Federer didn’t relent, his smash setting up a second match-winner followed by an untouchable forehand down the line to end the evening.
Defending champion Marin Cilic beat Croatian compatriot Borna Coric 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in a two-hour struggle to move to 5-0 against his younger countryman.
Fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro edged closer to a spot at next month’s ATP Finals as he dispatched French qualifier Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4.
Del Potro won the Basel title in 2012 and 2013, beating Federer in both of those finals.
“I’m tired, but I’m still winning and playing good tennis,” Del Potro said.
“This keeps me motivated to keep going.
“I have good chances to go far here and also rise in the rankings,” the number 19 said.
“I face a tough opponent tomorrow (Roberto Bautista Agut), so we will see what will happen.
“I played better than yesterday, but tomorrow I need to improve a little bit more. Bautista is one of the toughest guys, it will be a high-level match.”
The Argentinian is 14th in the Tour Finals standings with only two weeks remaining in the race to the eight-man season-ending tournament in London.
But with Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka not playing for the rest of the season due to injury, the South American’s position is looking stronger and stronger.
Del Potro went into the Basel tournament 470 points adrift of Pablo Carreno Busta in the final qualifying place, with 500 points on offer in Basel before the final Masters 1000 event of the season next week in Paris.
He wasted little time in seeing off 93rd-ranked Benneteau, hammering 12 aces.
The 29-year-old saved the lone break point he faced while breaking his opponent twice to secure a 34th win of the season.
Del Potro has been on a good run of form in recent weeks, reaching the Shanghai Masters semi-finals and winning the Stockholm title last weekend.
Elsewhere in the second round, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics advanced to the last eight as Argentine Leonardo Mayer quit when trailing 3-0 in the first set.