MASON, Ohio (AP) — Roger Federer could finally bask in some warm feelings during his rough summer. No surprise that they finally came at one of his favorite tournaments.
Up next, a favorite nemesis.
Federer overcome a tough start and emerged from his string of subpar showings since Wimbledon, beating Tommy Haas 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open.
He'll play fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal on Friday night, reprising one of tennis' greatest rivalries. Nadal leads the series 20-10, including a pair of wins over Federer this season.
"Always playing against Roger is a special feeling," Nadal said. "We have a great history behind us in our confrontations. So it's another quarterfinals. It's a special one because you're playing against a very special player."
Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in a 2-hour evening match. Nadal has overcome an injured left knee that wiped out the end of last season and a stomach virus that affected him early this year, taking a career-best mark of 50-3 into the quarterfinals.
Federer is just glad to be playing. The fifth-seeded Swiss star has been struggling to get his game back in shape since he was upset at Wimbledon by a player ranked 116th in the world. He has switched rackets and been limited by a sore back.
Finally, his game started to come together Thursday at a tournament he's won an unprecedented five times, including last year.
"Overall, I'm looking at the big picture and just playing matches again," Federer said. "I want to make sure I'm moving well and feeling fine. A match like this gives me a lot."
While Federer took a step, No. 1 Novak Djokovic got one win closer to a little ATP history. He needed only 50 minutes to beat qualifier David Goffin, 6-2, 6-0 and reach the quarterfinals.
Djokovic has lost four finals in Cincinnati, the only Masters series event he has yet to win. A victory would make him the first player to win all nine Masters. He plays John Isner on Friday.
"I played four times finals, so it's been one of the tournaments where I've performed well," Djokovic said. "Never managed to make the final step, and hopefully this year I can do so.
"I have an extra motivation and an opportunity to make history in this tournament, so I'm very inspired to play well day after day."
Also reaching the quarterfinals were second-seeded Andy Murray, sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, seventh-seeded Juan Martin del Potro and Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov, who upset third-seeded David Ferrer.
The women's side played mostly to form, with No. 1 Serena Williams beating Germany's Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-1 in only 63 minutes on Thursday night, reaching the quarterfinals in a tournament where she's never reached the final.
"I always struggle here," Williams said. "I've got to get used to everything. It's so different from the rest of the tournaments I've been playing.