Not quite the ending to Basel we all wanted as Roger fell just that bit short losing in another 3 set encounter against Juan Martin Del Potro who successfully defended his title. Like last year it was another close one and a trademark Federer 2013 reckless service game cost him in the end firing down 3 double faults to drop serve at the start of the third set.
Putting the loss and the poor service game aside it was a very pleasing performance from Roger and one that's difficult to be too disappointed with considering the matches we've had to put up with this year on the whole. 14 aces, great intensity, good under pressure and great defense are all positives to take from this afternoon. As a fan it feels like he's finally got himself on an upward curve and got some much needed matches under his belt.
It was the first time since Rome that he's played 5 matches in a week so even that's a milestone in itself; it's been a while since we have seen Roger play a full tournament without losing early or being hampered due to back problems so Basel has been a useful platform for next year if nothing else.
Quick Match Recap
Both players started this one well with Roger hitting a couple of sweet backhands down the learn early to level at 3-3. At 3-4 however a successful challenge from Del Potro got him a break point and Roger went long with the forehand to drop serve. It was always going to be interesting to see how he responded and he did so in style breaking back to love before holding to level at 5-5.
The set inevitably went into a tie break and the depth of Del Potro groundstrokes combined with a little bit of bad luck for Roger meant the Argentine took it 7 points to 3.
It was imperative that Fed made a good start to the 2nd set and he didn't let us down breaking early hitting a rapier of a cross court forehand to seal it. Del Potro had a look at 0-30 on Roger's next service game but his intensity was sky high at this point and he held to lead 3-0.
A love hold saw him move into a 4-1 lead and that soon became 5-2 with more solid serving and Roger got another break to seal the set 6-2 and level the match. It was a peRFect set from Roger really played at a really high level. It knocked the stuffing out of Del Potro I thought and was like watching the Fed of old with some of the points he put together.
I thought by winning the 2nd so convincingly he'd go onto win the match but like last year he just couldn't quite keep up his play and in his first service game he served 3 double faults to drop serve. Disappointing.
Once again Roger tried to hit back immediately, fashioning 2 break points but just couldn't capitalise and those were his last chances of the set as Del Potro maintained a level of consistency throughout before finally serving it out comfortably to win his second Basel title.
|Stats||R. Federer||J. Del Potro|
|1st Serve %||60%||59%|
|1st Serve Points Won||46/61 (75%)||42/54 (78%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||19/40 (48%)||18/37 (49%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/6 (67%)||3/6 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|1st Return Points Won||12/54 (22%)||15/61 (25%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||19/37 (51%)||21/40 (53%)|
|Break Points Won||3/6 (50%)||2/6 (33%)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Total Service Points Won||65/101 (64%)||60/91 (66%)|
|Total Return Points Won||31/91 (34%)||36/101 (36%)|
|Total Points Won||96/192 (50%)||96/192 (50%)|
96 points apiece. Fine margins.
Shot of the Match
Scarily good volley here under pressure, one of the worst approach shots you'll see but the control and angle he creates despite playing the shot on the service line is insane.
Thoughts on the Match
I see this one as a very positive week for Roger after the year he's had so far, of course the result wasn't the one I wanted but winning here was always going to be a pleasant surprise rather than an expectation. The main thing is he played well and looked much much sharper than we have seen recently, movement, first serve and playing well under pressure were all really good today.
Ultimately the one reckless service game cost him at the start of the third set that featured 3 double faults, if Roger had managed to hold there it could have been completely different. He let Del Potro back in the match with that break after he outplayed him in the second set so he was definitely responsible for his own downfall.
Del Potro played his part too though, he deserved to win the first set breaker as he played very consistently and once he got the break in the third set he maintained his flat and deep hitting. It's very hard to recover a break when your opponent is serving big and pinning you behind the baseline with great depth on their groundstrokes. Roger was never quite able to get the upper hand and even though he did have 2 break points to get back on serve Del Potro snuffed them out with big serving.
Along with Djokovic, Del Potro is probably the form guy right now after blitzing Nadal in Shanghai so I think Roger did well to make it such a close encounter; I think he will be disappointed with that nightmare service game but overall he has to be happy with his fitness and level of play. He certainly didn't look too downbeat during the trophy ceremony so I'm sure he sees it as a positive.
The good signs were the fact he served very well, hitting 14 aces, more than he served all week in 4 previous matches, and played well on the big points saving 4 of 6 break points and coming out of a number of 30 all type serve games on the right side of things.
I saw some fans say they were worried that the Pospisil match would have tired him out but I saw no signs of that as Roger's foot speed and movement were really good throughout, they weren't quite Dubai 2012 level which I said he'd need to play like if he wanted to win but they were pretty close. Had this been a 5 setter I'd have picked Roger all day to come through.
The final positive for me is the intensity Roger showed, he was quite vocal out there and definitely up for it which we didn't see at Wimbledon or the US Open, it was all very subdued and not very competitive. He's looking more up for the fight these days and it looks like he's on an upward curve. He has to sustain that in Paris and London but I have a good feeling he'll keep playing well indoors and that bodes well for next year.
Next Stop Paris
Next stop is Paris where Roger faces either Youzhny, who's just beaten Ferrer in Valenica or Anderson, I've done a full draw post here with his other seeded opponents, it's quite a tricky draw but to be expected when he's outside the top 4.
Paris hasn't always been a great tournament for him over the years but he has at least won the title there before so should have a few fond memories. It depends on the court really how his chances stack up, some years its been blistering fast but last year they slowed it right down I think so it'll be interesting to see how it plays this year. The organisers maybe hoping for a Nadal vs. Djokovic final so it could be like sandpaper if so.
I think Roger will most likely play Wednesday, live chat will of course be on for the match. See you guys then.