Roger Federer overcame Denis Istomin in three sets last year at the Swiss Indoors, and did so again Thursday evening in Basel. The Swiss maestro was broken midway in the first set, and was not able to break back on a few opportunities. Istomin, backed by strong serving and his flat groundstrokes, kept the 5-time Basel champion from settling into the match.
After saving a break point early in the second set, Federer broke Istomin and was able to comfortably force a third set, but his level was shaky at times, needing several break points to gain the crucial upper hand. The 33-year-old Swiss finished 2/12 on break points, but served well, winning 91% of points on his first serve, along with six aces and no double faults. After 1 hour 48 minutes, Federer served out the match, defeating Istomin 3-6 6-3 6-4. His net play was impressive down the stretch, winning 23 of 32 points.
Federer will face Grigor Dimitrov in Friday’s quarterfinals, in another same-round rematch to the 2013 Swiss Indoors (8pm local/2pm ET/11am PT).