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August 22, 2017

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Federer concentrates on Montreal, not top ranking shot

MONTREAL - Roger Federer kept his mind strictly on the quarter-final match at hand in a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday to strengthen his bid for a return to the number one ranking.

With top seed Rafael Nadal knocked out in the third round by Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, 19-time grand slam winner Federer is thick in the fight for a return to the top of the ATP list.

Shapovalov, aged 18 and ranked 143rd, became the youngest player to ever qualify for the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event as he rallied past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in front of an excited home crowd.

The junior Wimbledon winner and tournament wild card entered the week with three ATP-level wins and has added four more so far.

"I have no words, this is unbelievable," the youngster said. "The crowd really lifted me. It would have been hard to turn around the match without them.

"I started off pretty slow, just drained from yesterday. Rafa took a lot out of me. But Adrian did a good job of playing fast with me in the first set, really taking it to me."

Shapovalov will play a semi against another fast-rising young gun: fourth seed Alexander Zverev who beat South African Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-4.

The pair played the final last week in Washington, with Zverev winning to claim his fourth title of the season.

Federer's defeat of Bautista Agut was his seventh in a row without a defeat - or loss of a set - in the series with the Spaniard.

The world number three Swiss was competing in his eighth quarter-final in Canada and holds the 2004 and 2006 titles.

Lifting a third trophy along with an equal-or-better finish with Nadal next week in Cincinnati would send Federer to the top ranking spot on August 21, a week before the start of the US Open.

"I know I can't become number one here, I'm just playing Montreal for the tournament that it is, and I'm trying to win it for the first time in my career," Federer said.

"That's going to not change with Rafa going out. Number one for me was anyway something for later in the year.

"Now all of a sudden next week, maybe...obviously at the US Open, I think it's up for grabs for Rafa and myself. I don't know how much Rafa cares about the year-end number one or if he just cares about getting back to it for a short while. I don't know about myself either.

"Either way it's big for either of us. Just to get back to number one once again in your career is a big deal, especially later in your life.

"It's a good race and it's exciting for tennis."

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