- Internazionali BNL d'Italia
Fluent Federer strolls past Simon
Roger Federer's pursuit of a maiden final in 2013 will continue after he saw off the challenge of Gilles Simon to reach the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-finals on Thursday.
Federer's career has shown signs of decline this season, with the Swiss failing to reach the semi-finals in three of five tournaments entered so far. His most recent outing in Madrid finished in a shock round-of-16 defeat to Kei Nishikori, but there was no repeat in Rome.
Simon, the world No. 17, barely threatened as Federer eased into the last-eight, winning 6-1 6-2. He will now play Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Richard Gasquet 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4.
It took Federer until the fourth game to make his opening impact on Court Centrale, accepting his first break point to push ahead. A simple service hold followed, cemented by a delightful drop shot, as the former world No. 1 opened a 4-1 lead.
Federer's touch was as exquisite as ever, drawing Simon to the net again before firing a backhand winner past him to bring up another break point. A further topspin backhand proved too much to handle for Simon as the Swiss chalked up back-to-back breaks - allowing him to serve out the set in 23 minutes.
The first-set statistics told the story. Simon won only ten points, with Federer almost flawless behind his own serve. It was one-way traffic, and the pattern continued into the second.
There was a simple rhythm to Federer's work: smash Simon back behind the baseline and then disguise drop shots to force him to scramble. That exact tactic sealed another break in the opening game of the second set, setting up a stroll towards victory.
To Simon's credit he defended four more break points at 2-4, but eventually ceded the fifth to allow Federer to serve for the match, which he promptly did to love.