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Federer Reaches 9th Basel Final; Gasquet Latest Victim In Del Potro Hot Streak

Basel, Switzerland

del Potro© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro reached his second final in a row.

World No. 1 Roger Federer will challenge for a sixth Swiss Indoors Basel title after ending French wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu’s campaign on Saturday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory in the semi-finals. The hometown favourite fired 10 aces and converted two of his four break point chances to prevail in 86 minutes.

Victory for Federer saw him draw level with John McEnroe’s tally of 875 match wins, the fourth-best total in the Open Era. Should he win his 77th tour-level title on Sunday, he would also equal the American’s career haul.

The 31-year-old Federer will contest the final of this ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard court tournament for the ninth time. As well as victories in 2006-08 and 2010-11, he was also runner-up in 2000-01 and 2009. He is bidding to win his seventh tour-level title of the season.

In the final, Federer will resume his rivalry with Juan Martin del Potro, whom he leads 13-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Since beating Federer in the 2009 US Open final and at the subsequent Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, del Potro has lost his past seven meetings with Federer, including a 19-17 third-set defeat in the semi-finals of the London 2012 Olympics.

“I think the last couple matches give me good confidence. At least I know where my game is now, whereas the first couple rounds of any tournament, you’re not quite sure,” said Federer.

“I thought I’ve played a couple good matches. I’m excited about playing Juan Martin in the final. It’s great seeing him backing up his win in Vienna. We’ve played six times already this season. We had a couple of tough ones at [Roland Garros] and the Olympics. We can look back at some great matches and hopefully live up to another one tomorrow. I’m ready to go.”

Second seed del Potro won his eighth match in a row as he recorded an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 win over third seed Richard Gasquet. The Argentine capitalised on a first serve percentage of 49 per cent from Gasquet to break the Frenchman five times in the 67-minute contest.

“We played long rallies from the baseline and hit the ball really hard today. That helped me to play my game,” Federer said. “I broke his serve many times. Then I was ready and focused all the time on my serve. I think I played a really nice match.
“I played better than yesterday. I know I have to play better tomorrow if I want to win this tournament. I’m going step by step and enjoying this victory against Gasquet. It’s going to be a difficult final for me but I will be ready to play.”

Gasquet is 10th in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London, one spot away from clinching one of the two remaining berths in the eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The 26 year old has one more chance to overtake the ninth-placed Janko Tipsarevic at next week’s BNP Paribas Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Del Potro, who has already secured his place at the year-end championships, is bidding to win his second ATP World Tour tournament in a row, having last week triumphed at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. Zemlja). It was his third trophy of the season, following victories at the Open 13 in Marseille (d. Llodra) and the Estoril Open, where he also defeated Gasquet.

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