Roger Federer will appear in the Montreal finale for the first time in a decade following his straight-sets dismissal of Robin Haase in the Coupe Rogers semifinals.
Federer beat the unseeded Dutchman 6-3 7-6(5) in a customarily quick one hour, 15 minutes to advance to the final where he will face Alexander Zverev, who ended the thrilling run of Denis Shapovalov with a 6-4 7-5 victory.
Riding a 16-match winning streak, Federer will aim for his first ever title at the Montreal Masters.
“I’m happy, most happy that I’m actually really healthy going into the finals,” Federer said.
“I haven’t wasted too much energy. I’ve been able to keep points short. I’ve been really clean at net. I think my concentration and just my playing has gone up a notch. I’m just playing better.”
Later on Saturday, under lights at Uniprix Stadium, Zverev proved the steadier against the dangerous Shapovalov, who fired 17 winners to Zverev’s 12 but ended the match with 43 unforced errors – 16 more than the German.
The 18-year-old wildcard saved two match points against Zverev and held three break points in an atmospheric final game but couldn’t convert.
Shapovalov also held a 0-40 lead in the eighth game; converting any one of those three break points would have seen him serving for the second set.
Yet Zverev was rock solid, the Washington DC champ having now built a nine-match winning streak as he attempts to unseat Federer, who stopped him in the Halle final in June.
“Credit to him, he’s playing with so much confidence. He really put the pressure on me,” Shapovalov said of Zverev. “Sascha is an unbelievable player. Actually it’s pretty nice to see how my game matches up against him, to see that I can compete with a great player like him.”
Earlier, Federer and Haase were nearly identical on serve – both recorded nine aces and one double fault and enjoyed a high winning percentage on first serve points (Federer 87, Haase 78).
But it was on the second serve they diverged.
Federer won an incredible 19 of 24 – or 79 per cent – of his second-serve points, whereas Haase managed just 38 per cent.
The old adage goes that you’re only as good as your second serve – and it proved correct in Montreal on Saturday.
There were three service breaks in the first four games of the match, at which point Federer has opened a 3-1 lead.
No more breaks featured in the match, but the damage was arguably already done, with Federer riding his momentum to take the first set.
In the second set tiebreak, Federer let slip a 4-1 lead and suddenly found himself down 4-5. He then rattled off three straight points to seal victory.
Federer has improved his record to a near-perfect 35-2 in 2017 and will be aiming for his sixth title this year.
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