Federer reaches 11th Halle final after beating Khachanov
Top seed Roger Federer will challenge for a ninth Halle Open title after reaching the Wimbledon warm-up event final with a 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over rising Russian talent Karen Khachanov on Saturday.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion, who captured the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami titles this year, skipped the entire claycourt season to improve his chances of winning a record eighth title at the All England Club.
Despite a shock exit from Stuttgart on his comeback last week, Federer has improved in Halle and has not lost a set. He will now play the winner of the other semi-final between Frenchman Richard Gasquet and local favourite Alexander Zverev.
The pair traded breaks in the first two games but Federer made amends by grabbing a second one to restore his advantage and clinch the first set on his second set point.
The Swiss lured Khachanov to the net on several occasions, including at 4-4 in the second set and the Russian dumped a forehand volley into the net to give Federer two break points.
But instead of serving out the set, the top seed was broken again and the Russian even held two set points at 6-5 before the world number five recovered and forced a tiebreak.
He converted his first match point to reach an 11th Halle final.
Cilic edges past Muller to reach Queen's final
Fourth seed Marin Cilic dropped serve for the first time all week but recovered to stop Gilles Muller in the semi-finals of the Aegon Championships on Saturday, winning 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Neither player had surrendered serve en route to the last four so it was a surprise when Cilic broke left-hander Muller in the fifth game before wrapping up the opening set quickly.
Cilic failed to convert his opportunities in the second set, however, and one lapse of concentration at 5-6 blotted his copybook to allow Muller to snatch the second set.
It was nothing more than an inconvenience though as Croatian Cilic, also in doubles semi-final action later, broke in the seventh game of the decider and powered home to victory, sealing it with a second-serve ace on match point.
"Today's match was a really high level," world number seven Cilic, coached by former grasscourt specialist Jonas Bjorkman, said on Queen's Club's centre court.
"I played really well throughout and Gilles was pushing me to the limits. I've felt really good on serve all week and today I was mixing it up and playing smart."
Defeat ended 34-year-old Muller's grasscourt winning streak on seven but the Luxembourg player will head to Wimbledon in high spirits after another impressive week on the lawns, following his title run in Den Bosch.
Cilic, Queen's winner in 2012, will play either Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov or Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the final.
Kvitova into Birmingham final after Safarova retires
Czech Petra Kvitova's comeback from a lengthy injury layoff gathered momentum on Saturday as she reached the Aegon Classic final in Birmingham after Lucie Safarova retired from their semi-final with a leg injury.
Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova, playing in just her second tournament of the year, was 6-1, 1-0 up at the Edgbaston Priory Club when her Czech compatriot pulled out.
Kvitova is looking in impressive shape after her absence from the sport following a hand injury caused by a knife attack during an attempted robbery at her home in December.
Safarova was the latest player to withdraw in the latter stages of the WTA event.
On Friday, American Coco Vandeweghe retired with an ankle injury in her quarter-final against Spain's Garbine Muguruza.
In another last eight game Australian Ashleigh Barty also had a walkover, with Italian Camila Giorgi retiring with a leg injury in the first set.
Kvitova will face the winner of the Saturday's second semi-final between Muguruza and Barty.