Roger Federer returns the ball against Florian Mayer on Saturday. Photo: Joachim Bywaletz, Xinhua

HALLE – 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-times 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.

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