HAMBURG, Germany - Roger Federer beat Guillermo Coria 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Hamburg Masters.
In a replay of last year's final, Federer showed why he is the top-ranked player in the world, producing an array of winners against one of the most accomplished clay-court specialists.
"It was a message to me and the other guys on the French Open," Federer said. "It's a big win for me."
The $2.7 million Hamburg Masters is an important warm-up for the French Open, which starts May 23. Federer has never advanced past the quarterfinals in Paris. It is the only one of the four majors he has never won. Coria was the runner-up last year.
"I don't want to overestimate my chances, but I'm in good form on clay this year," he said. "It helps to beat clay-court specialists."
French teenager Richard Gasquet, one of only two players to beat Federer this year, also advanced to the semifinals, sweeping past Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 in 52 minutes.
Gasquet beat Federer in Monte Carlo last month.
Last year, Federer took away Coria's Hamburg title by coming from behind to win in four sets. This time, he rallied from a break down in both sets against the 10th-seeded Argentine.
Coria had to hold serve to stay in the opening set, but hit a forehand wide to give his opponent the crucial break.
Federer fell behind 5-3 in the second set, but fought back to win the next three games. Coria was serving for the set up 5-4, but Federer broke him.
"He went for more in the second set and I had to adjust," Federer said.
In the tiebreaker, Federer hit a forehand winner to end the match. He finished with 42 winners, to 16 for Coria.
"It was good," Federer said. "I have little to complain about. You have to play well to beat him. I'm glad it was over in two sets - it keeps me fresher."
Federer improved his record for the year to 39-2 as he chases his sixth title of 2005.
Before coming to Hamburg, Federer took three weeks off to rest swollen feet. Coria said that helped Federer.
"He plays incredible tennis, but he was fresher coming in, he wasn't giving me any chances today," Coria said.
Coria played in the final of the Rome Masters on Sunday, losing in more than five hours to Rafael Nadal. Coria also lost to Nadal in Monte Carlo, the first of the three major clay-court events leading up to the French Open.
"It's impossible to play back-to-back Masters. I had my chances, especially at 5-4 in the second set, it's a shame I didn't use them. It was a match of high intensity," Coria said.
In the semifinals, Federer will play 15th-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who beat Filippo Volandri 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Qualifier Christophe Rochus rallied to beat Juan Ignacio Chela 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 and reached his second semifinal of the year after Scottsdale.