INDIAN WELLS, USA: World No. 1 Roger Federer equalled his best start to a season to stay on course for a sixth Indian Wells title, while Borna Coric brushed aside a shaky first set to reach the semi-finals.
Federer booked his semi-final spot and extended his season win streak to 16 straight matches with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over South Korea´s Chung Hyeon on Thursday.
That equals the 16-0 start to the 2006 ATP calendar season. If he makes it to Sunday´s final and wins he will reach a career best 17 consecutive wins.
Switzerland´s Federer recalls parts of that streak but not all the tournaments he played in to get there.
“Twelve years ago, a long time ago. I don´t know. What was I doing back then?” he asked. “I don´t even remember what tournament I played first up and won.
“I guess I had a similar good start to the year. Back then I was on this massive streak of winning 30, 40-plus matches. It had already started the year before that, which this time it didn´t. I had to get it going again in Australia.
“It´s a great start. Hopefully I can do one more and beat my best streak on Saturday.”
Federer put on an impressive display of serving and shot making, winning 70 percent of his first serve points against Chung. He had just one double fault and broke Chung´s serve four times in the one hour, 23 minute main stadium match.
“I´m happy I found a way. I started off really well, struggled afterwards, found my game back again and was able to protect it, saving big break points early on in the second set,” Federer said.
“I think that was the key to the match, those 10, 15 minutes where I broke at the end of the first and then saved break points early in the second.”
Federer clinched the victory on his second match point when he blasted his 12th and final ace of the contest.
He next faces Croatian Coric who outlasted seventh seeded Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
20th Grand Slam
Earlier this year Federer defended his title at the Australian Open, picking up his 20th Grand Slam win.
Last month he claimed his 97th singles title with a victory in Rotterdam which helped him regain the world number one ranking and become the oldest No. 1 player in ATP history.
And this victory guarantees he will hold onto the top spot after Indian Wells.
This was the first match between Federer and Chung since the semi-finals of the Aussie Open when the Swiss was leading 6-1, 5-2 and Chung was forced to retire with a foot blister.
Chung dropped to 15-6 on the season as he was appearing in his fifth quarter-final in six tournaments this year.
Chung is set to become the top Asian player in the ATP rankings, surpassing Japan´s Kei Nishikori who has held sway since 2011.
“I´m really honored to be number one Asian,” Chung said.
Federer said he plans to get ready for Coric the same way he prepared for Chung.
“He plays similar to Chung,” Federer said. “A great mover and has got a world of confidence.
“I got to play aggressive tennis as much as I can. Pretty simple, not always easy to do.”