Roger Federer gained a measure of revenge against Wimbledon nemesis Kevin Anderson, beating the South African 6-0 6-4 at the Miami Open on Thursday.
Federer will now play 19 –year-old Denis Shapovalov, a player barely half his age in a mouthwatering semi-final.
The veteran will have little time to rest his 37-year-old legs before his clash against Shapovalov, the highly regarded Canadian talent tipped for future Grand Slam success.
Twentieth seed Shapovalov won his battle of ‘Next Gen’ hustlers 6-7(5) 6-4 6-2 against American Frances Tiafoe.
Shapovalov is one of two Canadian teenagers in the semis, with 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime to play defending champion John Isner in the daytime, before Federer and Shapovalov face-off under floodlights.
Federer has won 100 career titles, 100 more than Shapovalov, and was looking forward to the pair’s first match-up.
“He’s one of the big shot makers in the game. I love his forehand,” Federer said of his opponent.
“It’s an exciting draw for John and for myself here, playing these young guys. They are not just young, but they are very good, as well.”
The Swiss raced through the first set against Anderson, the man who came from two sets down to beat him in a quarter-final marathon at Wimbledon last year.
Anderson took nine games to get on the board but eventually found his groove and broke back with a series of return winners to level at 3-3 in the second set.
Federer struck the decisive blow at 4-4, however, winning a marathon game of 22 points and clinching the break with a fortuitous backhand return down the line.
“I hit it late and that’s why it went short,” he said of the shot. “That’s not what I wanted to do but maybe what it took. I got a bit lucky there at the end.”
Shapovalov broke Tiafoe four times and could hardly stop smiling at the prospect of playing Federer.
“It’s definitely a matchup I have been looking forward to my whole life,” he said.
“It’s going to be a dream come true to play him in such a big event. The stakes are so high, the semi-final of a Masters 1000 against your idol, it’s just a dream come true.”