Roger Federer’s bid for a 100th career title continues as he beat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the Paris Masters quarter-finals.
If he wins that, against either Kevin Anderson or Kei Nishikori, he could face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Federer, 37 and returning to the tournament for the first time since 2015, was hardly tested as he beat Fognini for the fourth time in four matches. He was fresh after Milos Raonic pulled out injured before their second-round match on Wednesday.
A double break of serve put Federer up 4-1 before Fognini broke back with a backhand winner down the line. Fognini had a chance to pressure Federer in the 10th game when the 20-time Grand Slam champion was down 15-40 on serve.
But Federer, who got through a few difficult situations last week on his way to winning the Swiss Indoors for the ninth time, saved both and then held on to clinch the first set.
Federer responded well in the eighth game of the second set, again saving two break points at 15-40 down on his way to leading 5-3. Fognini cracked in the next game and was broken to love, double faulting on match point.
Djokovic is chasing a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title and advanced when Damir Dzumhur retired trailing 6-1, 2-1.
Dzumhur had a lengthy massage on his lower back late in the first set and got loud applause when he carried on playing, but, after a few more games, he stopped for good. Djokovic was in total control and did not face a break point, breaking Dzumhur’s serve three times.
Djokovic, who will reclaim the No. 1 ranking next week regardless of where he finishes, faces Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.
The fifth-seeded Cilic beat ninth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, needing six set points to win the first set.
Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev saved all four break points he faced in beating Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2.
Zverev next faces unseeded Karen Khachanov.
Khachanov slid on his back and stretched out his arms in celebration after prevailing against John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (8) in a match in which the eighth-seeded Isner had 19 aces but missed two match points.
Defending champion Jack Sock needed less than an hour to beat lucky loser Malek Jaziri 6-0, 6-4.
The 16th-seeded Sock did not face a break point, and broke the Tunisian player’s serve four times.
Sock next faces No. 6 Dominic Thiem, who used 14 aces as he rallied to beat No. 11 Borna Coric 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-5.