Roger Federer, gathering momentum with every match, advanced to the quarterfinals of the $2.45 million Cincinnati Masters by beating Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 6-4, last night in Mason, Ohio.

Jose Acasuso of Argentina beat Luis Horna of Peru, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, in the other late match and will face Federer today.

Five of the top six seeds remain.

"He was just too good," Rochus said. "If you are going to beat him, you have to beat him in the first round. He gets better the more matches he plays."

Federer, ranked No. 1 in the world, has won eight titles already this year, including Wimbledon. He is 61-3 -- 35-1 on hard courts.

Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick also advanced.

Hewitt, the third-seeded player from Australia, beat Mario Ancic of Croatia, 6-1, 6-4. Fourth-seeded Safin of Russia beat Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, 6-0, 6-3.

No. 5 Roddick downed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, again unleashing a 145-mph serve to win a tiebreaker. He also did that Wednesday night against Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero. . . .

Svetlana Kuznetsova, who begins her U.S. Open title defense in 10 days, played despite lower back pain and lost to Argentina's Gisela Dulko, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (10-8), at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

* AUTO RACING: Tony Eury Jr. signed a long-term contract extension with Dale Earnhardt Inc., opening the possibility the crew chief will reunite next season with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Terms were not released for the deal, Eury's first contract in his 14 years with the company. Before this, he had always worked with a handshake agreement.

* PRO BASKETBALL: Free agent guard Doug Christie plans to sign with the Mavericks. . . . Guard Charlie Bell signed a multiyear contract with the Bucks after leading the Spanish league in scoring last season.

* HOCKEY: Josef Vasicek, who led Carolina in goals, points, games played and game-winning goals in 2003-04, signed a two-year deal with the Hurricanes. The contract will pay him $1 million this season and $1.3 million in 2006-07, General Manager Jim Rutherford said.

* COLLEGES: Richard L. Sander said he will step down as Virginia Commonwealth's athletic director next year to focus full time on his duties as head of the school's graduate sports leadership program.

* HORSE RACING: Magna Entertainment, the Canadian-based corporation that owns Laurel Park and Pimlico, has agreed to sell its right to manage and operate Colonial Downs to the owner of thoroughbred and harness track in New Kent, Va., for $10 million. The sale is subject to approval by the Virginia Racing Commission, which is expected to rule on the matter at its next meeting on Sept. 7.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports

Andy Roddick celebrates during a hard-fought victory over Juan Ignacio Chela. Roddick won the first-set tiebreaker with the help of a 145-mph serve.