Federer, Djokovic power into semifinals in Shanghai

Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer returned to form to beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-6(4) and reach the Shanghai Masters semifinals on Friday, while three-times Shanghai champion Novak Djokovic also made the semis with a 7-6(1) 6-3 win over South African Kevin Anderson.

Stars stay on track to face each other in final of Masters event

Novak Djokovic eyes up a return during his quarter-final match against Kevin Anderson at the Shanghai Masters. With his victory, Djokovic kept alive the potential for a showdown with top seed Roger Federer in the final. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer returned to form to beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-6(4) and reach the Shanghai Masters semifinals on Friday.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has produced a series of lacklustre performances in Shanghai, his first tournament since suffering a shock fourth-round defeat by John Millman at the U.S. Open last month.

Federer, Djokovic into the semis:

Defending champion Roger Federer, and three-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the Shanghai Masters semifinals along with Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev. 1:52

Yet he made an aggressive start against Nishikori to take a 4-1 lead in the opening set.

Federer held off a late charge from the Japanese player to take the opener before recovering from a 4-1 deficit in the second set tiebreak to seal victory.

The 37-year-old will next face Croatian power-hitter Borna Coric, who dumped Australia's Matthew Ebden out of the tournament 7-5 6-4. Coric beat Federer in the Halle final in their last meeting earlier this year.

Djokovic extends streak

Earlier in the day, three-time Shanghai champion Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 16 matches after beating South African Kevin Anderson 7-6 (1) 6-3, edging the Serb closer to the world No. 2 ranking.

Djokovic, who has won the last two Grand Slams, at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, is currently the world No. 3, but could move up a spot if he books a place in Sunday's final.

The 31-year-old Serb saved a set point against Anderson in an intense opener, before taking control in the tiebreak.

Second seed Djokovic broke early to take a 2-0 lead when his South African opponent found the net with a backhand.

Djokovic held the advantage to seal the victory and set up a semifinal clash with Germany's Alexander Zverev, who became the fifth singles player to qualify for November's ATP Finals with a 6-4 6-4 win over Kyle Edmund.

"[Zverev] has improved a lot, and he has established himself as a top player," Djokovic said.

"I think, quite similar in style of play to today's match. Kevin is a big server, big hitter from the back of the court, really aggressive, tall. [Zverev] is similar to that."

Zverev became the first German to seal a spot in successive years in the season-ending event since six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker (1994-96).

"It's great to finally officially make it and again be a part of the best eight, which is an elite group," the 21-year-old said.

"It's close to, or it's maybe equal to winning a Grand Slam, and I think other players will tell you the same thing, because just to be there, you obviously play well throughout the whole year."

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