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Federer defeats Karlovic to reach hometown final

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Top-seeded Roger Federer beat big-serving Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-3 Saturday to reach a ninth consecutive Swiss Indoors final and his 11th overall in his hometown of Basel.

Federer, who is looking for his sixth Swiss Indoors title after finishing runner-up in the past two editions, will meet David Goffin after the Belgian kept up his remarkable form by defeating teenage wild card Borna Coric 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Federer racked up three match points in his final service game but needed just one, winning with a backhand volley at the net to please the partisan crowd.

“I’m unbelievably happy,” Federer said. “I never thought I would be this successful ever at this tournament. So clearly I’m overjoyed and I hope I can play another good match tomorrow and enjoy the final.”

Karlovic hit 33 aces but it was not enough to secure what would have been just his second victory over Federer in 12 meetings.

“I think he served his best against me ever,” Federer said. “It was very impressive for how long, how big he served. It was close, I didn’t expect to break anymore in the third set, so I was very happy to get that and then bring it home.”

Karlovic went close to breaking serve late in the first set but sent a return into the net, and Federer took the lead after a closely-fought tiebreaker which he won with a crosscourt backhand that landed just inside the far corner.

The players only lost a combined three points on their serve in the first seven games of the second set before Karlovic earned a break.

Federer upped his game in the final set where a run of 12 consecutive points saw the 33-year-old Swiss break at love as well as winning two love service games.

For Goffin, it was his 43rd victory in 45 matches since his straight-sets loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, and it sent the 23-year-old Belgian into his third Tour-level final.

“It means a lot,” Goffin said. “It wasn’t my best match today, but emotionally it was a tough one. I’m really happy. I have nothing to lose tomorrow.”

The seventh-seeded Goffin wasted three match points before converting his fourth attempt when his Croatian opponent returned a smash long.

Coric had upset Rafael Nadal on Friday to announce himself as one of the rising stars of tennis, and the 17-year-old reaffirmed that early in the match. He raced across from the other side of the court to return a shot which Goffin had seemingly perfectly placed over the net — and which appeared impossible to reach — before landing the ball just inside the baseline to the gasps of the crowd.

Goffin made the decisive breakthrough in the fourth game of the final set, sealing the break with a precise backhand down the line.

Coric missed the chance to break straight back as Goffin thwarted him with an ace. The Belgian double-faulted twice on match point and sent a backhand volley long before finally grabbing his fourth opportunity.

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