After Federer exit, Stricker flying flag for Swiss in Geneva

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(Reuters) - Swiss hopes at the Geneva Open have not been completely snuffed out by Roger Federer's early exit with 18-year-old Dominic Stephan Stricker picking up some impressive victories in his first main draw appearance on the Tour.

Junior French Open champion Stricker was ranked outside the top 1,000 at the start of the year but has climbed to 419th with a maiden Challenger title in March in only his second tournament on the feeder circuit.

The left-hander was handed a wild card at this week's ATP 250 event and has made full use of the opportunity, taking down two top-50 opponents to advance to the quarter-finals.

With Federer watching from the stands, Stricker defeated former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, currently ranked 46th, in straight sets in his opening round and then followed it up with a victory over world No. 44 Marton Fucsovics.

"I think everything is working pretty well," Stricker told reporters on Wednesday.

"I'm serving good here, and I improved a lot on that. I'm just trying to do my game style: being (on the) offence, but also if I need to I can stay in the rallies.

"I'm just trying my best and working hard every day here in Switzerland and I think it's all good."

The teenager had an opportunity to pick Federer's brain when he spent three weeks in Dubai during the pre-season as the practice partner for the 20-times Grand Slam winner.

"We didn't practise here but we practised a lot at the start of the year," he said. "For sure that helps me to see how good he is and just to see that I'm actually close to his level – maybe not at his level, but I'm just trying to get there.

"It helps me to see it. I'm getting better and trying to get to this level where these guys are."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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