Federer battles into semis
Roger Federer celebrated his 33rd birthday with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over David Ferrer to move into the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Federer will next face another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, who ended the last hope for a homegrown winner in sixth seed Milos Raonic 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3.
Ferrer has never beaten Federer - 14 times he had tried before Friday evening - and 14 times he had failed, but his fifteenth attempt was one of his best.
He edged a tense second-set tie-break but wilted in the third and Federer took a step closer to his 80th career title.
"It's a dream come true to still be playing tennis at this age," Federer said. "I love tennis but it is a whole lot more fun when you do win and play against guys like David who leave it all out there.
"Stay injury free and go out on my terms, maybe try and win tournaments, I have two this year and hopefully we will have a few more. It starts here tomorrow again on the court."
Lopez excels on grass and reached the final at Queen's before clinching his fourth career title at Eastbourne a week later, and he has looked at home on the Canadian hardcourts.
After knocking off fourth seed Tomas Berdych in the third round he will now have to record another big upset in Federer if he is to reach his first ATP Tour Masters 1000 final.
Lopez's victory deflated the capacity crowd and was a crushing loss for Raonic, who came into his home tournament with huge expectations, sitting a career-high number six in the world and riding the momentum from a win last Sunday in Washington.
Raonic blasted 18 aces past Lopez but in the end the big-hitting Canadian said it was a lack of courage, not muscle, that cost him the win.
"He (Lopez) stepped up and played well on the important moments, especially on his service game," said Raonic. "I just need to show in a few situations more courage and go for a little bit more.
"Not just that third set but all throughout the match. I just felt like I never let it go through or impose myself, and I think that's what cost me over time."
Grigor Dimitrov will face the Andy Murray's conqueror Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the other semi-final.
The Bulgarian needed to dig deep to avoid having his name added to the upset list, the seventh seed battling back to beat South African Kevin Anderson in a thriller 5-7 7-5 7-6 (8-6).