Tennis

Roger Federer steps up to down Kei Nishikori and storm into Shanghai semi-finals

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Tennis - Shanghai Masters - Shanghai, China - October 12, 2018 - Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Kei Nishikori of Japan. REUTERS/Aly Song

Federer was in good form (Picture: REUTERS)

Roger Federer rediscovered some of his best form in a pulsating win over Kei Nishikori to return to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters.

The Swiss had looked a bit out of sorts in his first two matches in China but stepped up his level against an experienced opponent in a fiercely competitive clash.

Nishikori remains in the hunt for a place in the ATP Finals – a remarkable achievement considering he dropped down to Challenger level at the start of 2018 as he recovered from a wrist injury – and he played his part in a magnificent spectacle.

But Federer matched the in-form Japanese No. 1, producing some scintillating tennis as he continued the defence of his title with a hard-fought 6-4 7-6 (7-5) win.

The 37-year-old will relish a shot at revenge in his next match against Borna Coric, who defeated Matthew Ebden 7-5 6-4 earlier on Friday.

Tennis - Shanghai Masters - Shanghai, China - October 12, 2018 - Kei Nishikori of Japan in action against Roger Federer of Switzerland. REUTERS/Aly Song

Nishikori was downed (Picture: REUTERS)

Borna Coric of Croatia reacts after winning against Matthew Ebden of Australia during their men's singles quarter-final match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament on October 12, 2018. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Coric is up next for the world No. 2 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Coric defeated Federer in the Halle final earlier this year. This will be their first meeting since that shock win on the grass.

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Though the Croat is more suited to a hard court, the odds will be stacked against him in Shanghai, particularly if Federer maintains this form.

The match got off to a frantic start.

In a fascinating 10-minute opening game, Federer broke the Japanese with the cruelest of net cords to gain an early advantage.

Tennis - Shanghai Masters - Shanghai, China - October 12, 2018 - Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Kei Nishikori of Japan. REUTERS/Aly Song

Federer had too much for the Japanese (Picture: REUTERS)

Despite Nishikori playing some good tennis, a second break followed for the Swiss at 4-1 as he continued to raise his level.

The world No. 12 hit straight back to keep himself alive in the first, but Federer looked after the second break and took a one-set lead.

A sublime backhand winner at the start of the second placed Nishikori under more pressure on break point and he crumbled with a double fault to hand the Swiss the advantage.

The Japanese wouldnt go away without a fight and clawed his way level at 3-3 after another impressive retun game, and took the 20-time Grand Slam champion to a tiebreak.

Despite falling 4-1 down, it was the top seed who ultimately triumphed and he set up a meeting with Coric in the semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic will face Alexander Zverev in the other semi-final.

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