World no. 2 and the seven-time Cincinnati champion Roger Federer advanced to the sixth semi-final of the 2018 season following a thrilling 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 victory over the compatriot Stan Wawrinka in two hours and 16 minutes.
It was their 24th meeting and the first since Indian Wells final in 2017, with Roger celebrating the 21st win over a good friend after overcoming the loss of the opening set and a tight second set tie break to dominate in the decider and stay on the title course.
Federer lost 18 points in his games, never facing a break point and keeping the pressure on Stan, who stayed unbroken until the deciding set. There, Roger grabbed two return games to end Stan's run in the quarters. Wawrinka was the lowest-ranked quarter-finalist in Cincinnati since 1993, unable to make one extra step and reach the semis.
The overall numbers were not that good for either player, with Federer firing 31 winners and 48 errors to topple Stan's 21-41 ratio, having the upper hand in the shortest and longest exchanges to earn the win fair and square.
In Cincinnati 2018, Roger Federer toppled Stan Wawrinka in three sets.
Both players served under 50% in the opening set, but no one could notice that in Roger's games, dropping one point in each of his service games to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
Stan fended off two break chances at 2-3 and had to pass the ultimate test in the 12th game when Roger created two set points. The younger Swiss saved them both to earn momentum before the tie break, where he won all four service points with winners.
On the other hand, Roger suffered three mini-breaks to lose the breaker 7-2 after Stan's backhand down the line return winner. Wawrinka was still serving under 50% in the second set but had to play against only one break chance, while Roger was yet to put a foot wrong behind the initial shot, dropping five points in total.
Stan saved a break chance at 5-5 with a service winner before losing the opening point of a tie break after Federer's great crosscourt backhand that forced a volley error from his rival. Serving for the set at 6-4, Roger sent a forehand outside the stadium, and Stan was back in the game, leveling the score at 6-6 and standing two points away from the finish line.
Nonetheless, his forehand went wide in the 13th point, and Roger closed the set after Wawrinka's backhand error to set a decider after just over 100 minutes. They had to stop due to flashes of lightning, and the match was resumed 20 minutes later, with Roger holding at love.
Stan saved a break point with a backhand winner in game four, but Roger found a way to break him in game six and open up a 4-2 gap. A hold at love propelled Federer 5-2 in front, and he sealed the deal with another break in game eight after Stan's weak forehand, rattling off the last nine points of the match and beating his compatriot for the 16th time in as many encounters on hard courts!