Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt set up another chapter in their high-profile rivalry on Friday as the pair moved into a semifinal showdown at the Cincinnati Masters.
Top seed Federer held off tenacious Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, going through in less than 90 minutes on an ace, the world number one polishing his form prior to the start of the US Open a week from Monday.
Quickfire Hewitt broke in the first game on his way to a 6-2, 6-4 thrashing of Carlos Moya in their quarterfinal.
Federer beat Hewitt just a week ago in the Montreal quarters on the way to a final which he lost to Serb Novak Djokovic.
The Swiss stands 12-7 in the series against Hewitt, notably winning the last 10 meetings. Hewitt last tasted success in Melbourne Davis Cup play nearly four years ago.
Federer was steady, breaking four times and firing nine aces in the win over the 32nd-ranked Almagro. He produced 23 winners on the way to victory, his 43rd of the season against six losses.
Hewitt, Australia's ex-world number one who is renewing his game under the guidance of Federer's former coach Tony Roche, advanced to his fourth semifinal of the season and also hammered home his potential as a contender at the upcoming Open.
The 2001 US Open winner, who lifted the Wimbledon title the next year, did not play the New York Grand Slam last year due to injury.
"I felt great physically, I really took it to him," said Hewitt. "I'm happy with how I'm hitting the ball. I just tried to dictate play and I did that really well."
Roche, in Sydney awaiting the birth of a grandchild, has been working with his new charge over the telephone with great success.
The 26-year-old Hewitt won the Las Vegas title in early March and also played semifinals in Hamburg and Austria.
The win reversed the result of the Cincinnati final of five years ago, when Moya beat Hewitt for the title.
Hewitt swept the opening set in 32 minutes with two breaks of serve against the 30-year-old Moya, like Hewitt a one-time number one.
The charged-up Aussie began the second with a break and waited while Moya took treatment on what appeared to be serious toe blistering as he trailed 0-3.
The former Roland Garros champion got a break back but was unable to close the gap as Hewitt moved through in 77 minutes.
"It was tough after the timeout," said Hewitt. "You think that he'd be hobbling a bit, but then he could still find a forehand winner. I tried to open up his forehand a bit, when it's on it's one of the best in the game."
"I've felt good with my game since the Hamburg Masters (last May). The guys I've lost to have been the top ones. I feel that I'm getting better with each match."