When Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet stepped up on Center Court of the Rolex Shanghai Masters to complete the last quarter-final of the day their legs must have felt very different. The French, ranked 31 in the world, had to dispatch the likes of Robin Haase, Hyeon Chung and Giles Simon all in three tightly contested sets. Federer, on the other hand, enjoyed a bye in the first round and has yet to concede a set after having faced Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Federer held a 15-2 head to head record going in this match. Gasquet has upset the no. 2 seed twice in the past but both those wins were clinched on clay. The pair were happy to exchange many aesthetically pleasing one-handed backhand exchanges but it was the Swiss 19-times Grand Slam champion who extended his winning streak over his French compatriot to eight wins in a row: 7-5, 6-4.

There seem to be no nerves visible as both players were not reluctant to showcase their talents to a packed house of Chinese fans, who were overwhelmingly in favor of the Swiss legend. Federer initially failed to pounce on his opportunities as his forehand looked rusty in the early goings.

After holding to love to get to 1-1 the Swiss legend put pressure on the Gasquet serve with a deft drop shot before failing to get to 15-40 with a missed easy forehand in the net with the Frenchman in no man’s land. When Federer did get to break point it only seemed to awaken Gasquet’s bread and butter backhand drive. Seeing multiple winners fly by him, Federer trailed by one game yet again.

In the sixth game Gasquet produced a magic get after Federer defied his age, playing a deft full stretch drop shot volley. One unforced error later and Gasquet had a look at his first opportunity to break, which Federer swatted away due to some great length embedded in his ground strokes.

Gasquet kept pushing and came close to a break point again. Federer, however, reasserted himself and closed the door after a beautiful backpedaling backhand down the line winner to even the score at 4-4.

In the eleventh game Gasquet couldn’t keep Federer’s brilliance at bay. After a wonderful lob in the opening point the Swiss kept pushing to earn himself the break at 15-40 when Gasquet couldn’t keep a forehand on the run in play.

The world no. 31 made his mark once more with an energetic backhand cross court passing but Federer bagged the set all the same as he held his cool to produce a cross court backhand winner: 7-5. Federer had served 78% of first serves in that first set with Gasquet trailing in that department with just 58%.

Fate was not on Gasquet’s side in the opening game of the second set as he conceded his serve to love. Federer, being arguably the best frontrunner in the history of the game, threatened to keep his eye on the ball and never look back.

But the re-break would be instant. Gasquet upped his game on the returns and it paid dividends. One solid hold later and he was up 2-1 in the second set.

The rally of the match came in the fifth game. No less than 30 scintilating shots saw Federer winning the opening point on the Gasquet serve with a crisp smash. When Federer’s backhand flick pass in the next point exhibited another moment of excellence Gasquet knew he was in trouble. Federer earned himself three break points in total but Gasquet wiped them all away with aggressive play.

An impressive hold, especially after Federer was pressing hard. Gasquet’s hard efforts would be in vain though as he had to relinquish serve in his next service game after a huge slice of luck favored the Swiss. The 36-year old’s backhand clipped the tape and Gasquet was powerless to pull off the backhand smash off Federer’s lob that followed. Federer was leading 4-3.

No change of game plan from the Frenchman. He seemed content to play two meters from the baseline to keep his loopy ground strokes solid and now and again surprise his opponent with his trademark acceleration through the ball. After a positive hold he made sure Federer had to serve for the match at 5-4.

There would be no more hiccups from Federer as a service winner sealed his spot in tomorrow’s mouthwatering semi-final clash versus the last man who was able to beat him: Juan Martin Del Potro.

Federer had beaten his friend Richard Gasquet for a stunning 16th time in a high quality affair: 7-5, 6-4.

Be sure to check out our other news articles of everything that surrounds the Shanghai Rolex Masters on our site Tennis-Pulse.com. We continue our coverage tomorrow as the semi-finals ensue.