DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland continued his hot play Friday, but Australian Open runner-up Rainer Schuettler of Germany was ousted Friday at the Dubai Championships.
Federer advanced to his third straight semifinal with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Moroccan wild card Hicham Arazi at the hardcourt event.
The 21-year-old Swiss star, who improved to 18-4 this season, dealt with gusty winds to defeat Arazi for the third time in four meetings.
"I think I was playing too passive at the start because I just wanted to keep the ball in play, Federer said. "I thought he was not playing as aggressive as I'm used to. His game can really get to your head, the way he did it to me at the French Open (last year), but I really learned from that match and haven't lost a set since."
Federer won at Marseille two weeks ago and made it to the semifinals last week at Rotterdam. His semifinal foe Saturday will be Ivan Ljubicic.
The hard-serving Croatian upended the fifth-seeded Schuettler, 6-3, 6-4, to defeat the German for the second time in six encounters and move into his second semifinal of the season. A quarterfinalist here last year, Ljubicic reached the last four at Milan last month.
"That was quick and I was pleased with the way I played," said Ljubicic, the star for Croatia in its first-round Davis Cup win over the United States in January. "Of course, I served good, but I felt comfortable. That's a pretty good feeling because I had a pretty bad record against Rainer."
Federer beat Ljubicic in the semifinals at Marseille to even their head-to-head series at two matches apiece.
Saturday's other semifinal will send third seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic against Spain's Tommy Robredo.
Novak advanced to his third semifinal in Dubai with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over No. 6 Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands.
Robredo got past good friend and countryman Feliciano Lopez, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4. The 21-year-old Spaniard was 0-4 this year before arriving in Dubai.