Basel | Federer wins and then pulls out of Paris
The crowds in Basel finally got the result they were hoping for when, after two hours and 31-minutes, Roger Federer finally claimed his eighth Swiss Open title preventing Juan Martin del Potro from collecting his third at the event.
For Federer, the 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 result in what was his 13th Basel final and 11th on the trot in his hometown, was a grueling affair as he showed his frustration on several occasions by hitting balls and striking the net when the play was not going his way.
I love to play at Bercy, it’s a few times now that I’ve not played there. It’s a tough one but they have to understand that it’s for the cause of staying injury-free and healthy.
I’d like to be fully fit for London (the O2) and for 2018.Roger Federer
But while he managed to hold his emotions in place it was a tetchy performance as he was unable to produce the level of tennis which saw him dismiss David Goffin in the previous round. Nevertheless he saved four out of seven break points to hold his game together, and with a baying crowd at his back, held off the challenge from the big Argentinian who had previously beaten him twice in the Basel final.
The Argentine struggled on his second serve and he had to defend 15 break points, fending off 10, which wasn’t enough to bring him the victory. Federer was a break up twice in the opening set and served for it but it was the challenger who gained the initial advantage coming back from 0-3 in the tie-break to win it 7-5.
Federer then levelled the match with a break in the tenth game of the second and went on to control the decider as well, despite losing his serve in the opening game. Del Potro was unable to hold the lead, losing serve twice to end on the losing side and miss 200 valuable points in the ATP Race for London but he is still in contention for that eighth and final spot at the O2.
Federer admitted frustration after failing to win the opening set on Sunday.
“Being up two breaks should be enough to beat almost anyone. I was also up in the breaker. I had way too many wasted opportunities,” the 36-year-old Swiss said. “I didn’t have the best serving day, I struggled. It was mental and physical, I’m glad I found a way somehow.”
He then added: “I think we’re both tired from a long season. Plus he’s been playing four straight weeks now, very successful, so we tried to give it all we had. The crowd really enjoyed themselves and at the end there is always going to be a winner unfortunately in tennis. But I think we both can be very happy with the week today.”
A somewhat downcast the 29-year-old Del Potro said: “It’s unbelievable how well Roger is playing. I hope to be in such shape when I’m his age. But I doubt I will be!”
Federer later dropped a bombshell by revealing he wouldn’t be withdrawing from the Paris Open, the last of the Masters Series, which starts on Monday. It virtually hands the end-of season No.1 spot to his rival Rafa Nadal.
“My body is asking for a break,” said the Swiss world No.2. “Basel takes a lot out of me emotionally. I had five matches in six days. I feel sorry and sad for Paris.
“I love to play at Bercy, it’s a few times now that I’ve not played there. It’s a tough one but they have to understand that it’s for the cause of staying injury-free and healthy.
“I’d like to be fully fit for London (the O2) and for 2018.”
According to ATP calculations, Nadal can clinch the year-end number one status by winning his opening second-round match in Paris.
The Spaniard will open his campaign at Bercy against either German serve-and-volleyer Mischa Zverev or Hyeon Chung, the promising South Korean.
Federer last played Paris in 2015 and won the title in 2011.
“I did think about the ranking, but I’m so far back in the points race that it was almost out of the question,” added Federer.
“I asked myself what I would do if the ranking (issue) was not there. I want to stay injury-free, not push it and maybe get hurt next week and then miss London.”