Federer v Ferrer preview

Roger Federer will bid to become only the third player in the Open era to notch 80 tour title victories when he takes on David Ferrer in tonight's Cincinatti Masters final.

Only Jimmy Connors with 109 tour-level titles and Ivan Lendl with 94 stand ahead of the 33-year-old Swiss.

But Federer is expecting a tough battle against the Spaniard, despite never having lost to Ferrer in any of their previous 15 encounters, including 10 on either hard courts or indoor carpet.

He said: "We played against each other last week - a tough three-setter - I was close to losing that one, especially early in the third set he was the better player."

Federer went on to win that quarter-final in Toronto last week 6-3 4-6 6-3 and has a lifetime record of 31-4 sets against Ferrer, who is just a year younger at 32.

They have faced each other once before in Cincinnati, where Federer survived a 2009 third round clash 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Despite both players being into their 30s, each has enjoyed a rise in fortunes with Federer back up to No 3 in the world rankings after a disappointing, injury-plagued 2013 campaign.

He is aiming for his sixth Cincinatti Masters title after defeating Canada's Milos Raonic 6-2 6-3 in the semi-final. It is also his fourth consecutive ATP final and eighth tournament final of season, including his Wimbledon loss to Novak Djokovic.

Federer said: "Round by round I'm playing better. That's what I like to see from myself, you know, not like starting strong and then getting weaker as the week goes on so I'm very pleased with how I played out here against Milos and I hope I've got something left for the final."

Sixth seed and World No 6 Ferrer will be chasing his second title of the season, having captured the Copa Claro in February. He earned his place in the Western & Southern Open final with a 6-3 6-2 win over France's Julien Benneteau.

It will be his seventh Masters 1000 final and second on American soil but he has only won one of those previous deciders, which include a 2013 loss to Andy Murray in Miami. Tonight's match also marks Ferrer's 45th appearance in a final, with a 21-23 win/loss record.

\"With Roger, I (have) never beaten him,\" Ferrer said after his semi-final. \"It's one important final for me.\"

Ferrer is the sixth Spaniard to reach the Cincinnati final in the Open era and is trying to become the third to win the title, after Rafael Nadal in 2013 and Carlos Moya in 2002.

Federer added: "He's had also a bit of a tougher year, he's played better in the past, but then nevertheless he beat Rafa in Monaco, he had a run again in Toronto and now again he's in the final. He's showing some nice form now."

He added: "Most of the players really appreciate his fighting spirit. We all have unbelievable respect for him, same with me. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Watch Federer take on Ferrer tonight on Sky Sports 3 with coverage starting from 9pm.