In a repeat of last year’s fantastic final, 5-time titleholder Roger Federer will meet defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the finals of the Swiss Indoor Open tomorrow afternoon. These two elite competitors have a storied rivalry, and while Federer holds a 13-4 lead in the head-to-head series, del Potro holds several memorable wins over the Swiss including his lone Grand Slam title in 2009, two World Tour Finals wins (2009, 2012) and a Basel title last year in an epic three set encounter.
Federer is through to his eighth consecutive final in Basel but it was far from an easy journey this year. After a stumbling through his error-filled quarter-final contest against Grigor Dimitrov yesterday, the 17-time Grand Slam champion needed to dig deep once again, particularly in the later stages when Pospisil appeared to be closing in for the kill with a 3-1 lead in the third set. Yet, to the delight of an ecstatic Swiss crowd in Basel, Federer managed to win the big points, break back, and eventually secure a break of his own and close out the match with an ace.
The former World No. 1 has been struggling after a season riddled with disappointing results and setbacks but would certainly be able to ease his discomfort if he wins the Basel title and carries forth the momentum to the Paris Masters next week. Much is riding on this final as Federer will be guaranteed a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals next month if he wins the title tomorrow afternoon.
Del Potro also had a tough semi-final contest this afternoon, needing three sets to defeat World No. 65 Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ has had a successful year on the tour, with three titles to his name in 2013 and returning to the top 5 in the rankings for the first time in four years, when he was sidelined due to his injured shoulder. He also picked up a groundbreaking win over World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Shanghai, breaking the undefeated hard court streak the Spaniard possessed this season. With a spot guaranteed in the year-end championships next month, del Potro is looking to defend his title and finish the season strong.
This is the 18th time that these two elite competitors meet on the ATP World tour. While Federer holds the overall lead (13-4) he has certainly been the lesser of the two in their recent meetings. Roger has not defeated the World No. 5 since their encounter in the London Olympics last year and has since lost to him twice (Basel, WTF 2012). It will be interesting to see if Federer is able to overcome the towering Argentine tomorrow afternoon in front of his hometown crowd, considering his questionable performances throughout this season. His wins over Dimitrov and Pospisil show that he is motivated to win the title but del Potro happens to be producing some of the best tennis of his career and will be a much tougher task for the Swiss. In all cases, we are likely in for another enticing encounter between two remarkable athletes.