The Swiss maestro will now face Karen Khachanov, who won his all-Russian quarterfinal match-up against Andrey Rublev 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to reach his first tour semifinal of the year.
But, instead of serving out the set, the top seed was broken again and Khachanov even held two set points at 6-5 before the world No. 5 recovered and forced a tie-break.
The bare numbers hardly tell the tale: 6-1, 6-3 to Federer, 58 points to 33 overall, winning 79% of his service points, 52% when receiving.
In every sport, there has always been a rivalry between two iconic players which gives a lot of excitement to the game but the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has always been something else.
Zverev is also looking to become the only player this year to win titles on hard, clay and grass courts while the Swiss is targeting his ninth title here at the Halle Open.
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German Zverev, 20, beat Federer in last year's semi-final.
In the final point of the third game of the second set, Zverev hunted down one of Federer's many drop shots, slid under the net and jarred his left ankle.
"I thought it was extremely close, especially that second set". Zverev reached the final past year but lost to Mayer. I think I did it very well.
"It was important to be aggressive off the baseline and make him feel my variation and the power I can bring to the court", Federer said. Federer then benefited from his strong serve, finishing with five aces while converting three of his four break opportunities to end the match in one hour and 30 minutes.
"Without them, it would have been very tough yesterday, and today as well, so I really appreciate everybody here coming out to support and it's going to be another fun day tomorrow", Zverev said.
His huge serve was on full display when he won the 's-Hertogenbosch title on grass last week and once again he used it to devastating effect against Querrey. "So I'm just going to enjoy it as much as I can".
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