In the last edition of the ATP 500 event in Halle so far, Roger Federer advanced to the semi-final for the 15th time a year ago, beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in an hour and 53 minutes. The Swiss had to dig deep for the second straight match, battling with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round and giving his best to topple the Spaniard and stay on the title course.
The nine-time champion fended off four out of five break chances and found the way to cross the finish line first with a late break in game ten of the decider to enter the last four and extend his streak. Bautista Agut gave his best to remain competitive and stun the crowd favorite, delivering impressive tennis in set number two and hitting 26 winners and 27 unforced errors.
Roger had 34 winners and 24 mistakes, overcoming some loose games and producing his A-game when he needed it the most to beat the Spaniard for the ninth time in as many matches.
Nothing could separate them in the more extended exchanges, and Federer made the decisive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, doing more damage with his initial shot and the first groundstroke to prevail in three sets.
The nine-time winner was the dominant figure in the opening set, hitting 12 winners and five unforced errors and never giving Bautista Agut any chance on the return, dropping two points in four service games. Facing an ultimate challenge, the Spaniard was unable to produce similar numbers, suffering a break at love in the first game following Roger's forehand winner to find himself in trouble after only a minute.
Both players served well in the next seven games and the Swiss secured the opener with another break in game nine for a 6-3 in 29 minutes. Having to raise his level, Roberto started to hit with more intensity and depth in set number two, defending his serve nicely and breaking Federer in the third game to move in front.
Serving for the set at 5-4, the Spaniard blasted a service winner to force a decider, delivering nine winners and five unforced errors to leave Roger behind. Federer stayed calm to fend off a couple of break chances at the beginning of the third set, creating an opportunity of his own in the next game following a good attack that Bautista Agut denied and stayed on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Serving at 3-4, the Spaniard erased a break point with a good serve, keeping the pace with the great rival before Roger broke him at 15 in the tenth game to seal the deal and book the place in the semis.