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Del Potro Retains Basel Title; Federer's London Qualification Bid Continues

Basel, Switzerland

del Potro© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro has now for Swiss Indoors Basel for two straight years.

Juan Martin del Potro picked up his fourth title at an ATP World Tour 500 tournament this year after he retained the Swiss Indoors Basel crown on Sunday.

Top seed del Potro beat third seed and five-time former champion Roger Federer 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4 in a repeat of last year’s final. The high-quality championship match lasted two hours and 21 minutes.

“It was similar in intensity, rallies and the emotion of the fans [to the 2012 final],” said del Potro. “The fans were cheering for him a lot, but they also respected me. They made a fantastic atmosphere. I think we played the best match of the tournament today.”

The 25-year-old del Potro has also won ATP World Tour 500 tournament titles in 2013 at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Benneteau), the Citi Open in Washington (d. Isner) and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo (d. Raonic).

Del Potro has already qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 4-11 November. 

“I have good memories of playing in London,” said del Potro. “I reached the final [in 2009]. All the players are fighting for the same challenge and it makes it a special tournament. I am confident in myself and my game. I know how to beat them, but I realise that I need to keep playing well.”

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But Federer must now beat Kevin Anderson or Mikhail Youzhny in his second round match at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Wednesday to qualify for a record-equalling 12th consecutive year. It would tie Ivan Lendl for most successive appearances at the season finale. 

“It was a pretty high level match overall,” said Federer. “Probably my best match of the tournament overall, but it is always difficult to judge when you lose.

Del Potro has now won 17 trophies. He received €348,000 and 500 Emirates ATP Ranking points after he improved to a 23-1 match record at ATP World Tour 500 tournaments this season. Federer, now 5-5 in Basel finals, picked up €156,800 and 300 points.

FedererAt the start of the pair’s 18th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, Federer did not allow del Potro to get into a rhythm in the early stages. Both players tried to keep rallies short with approaches to the net. 

Del Potro was taken to deuce in the seventh game, but he hung on and went on to break Federer for a 5-3 lead, courtesy of two double faults and some aggressive returns. 

Federer immediately bounced back by breaking del Potro to love, and was then forced to save two set points from 15/40 by winning four straight points.

In the inevitable tie-break, del Potro took a 4-1 lead and clinched the 54-minute opener with a deep forehand return that Federer could only half volley wide.

The crowd came alive again at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, when Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set. 

He maintained the advantage and at 5-2, broke del Potro for a third time in the match by rushing to the net on the back of a forehand approach. 

Federer lost one of his first service points and hit five aces to win the 36-minute set, which levelled the scoreline. In the 2012 Basel final, del Potro had beaten Federer 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3).

Del Potro looked to be tiring at the start of the decider, but roused himself to break serve in the first game. Federer had led 40/15, but two double faults cost the hometown favourite. Del Potro then saved two break points in the next game as the momentum of the match shifted in the defending champion’s favour.

del PotroFederer clung on at 2-4, 30/40, when del Potro narrowly failed to hit a drop shot for a winner down the line. But del Potro remained strong on serve, winning 16 of his 17 first service points, to record his third straight win over Federer.

“I felt well. I tried to be positive after I lost a tough second set where I made a lot of mistakes. Roger started to play much better. In the final you cannot relax in any moment.

“I waited for my break point chance, which I got in the first game. Then, I tried to be solid on serve. The last two service games were my best of the whole tournament. It was good to see my serve was working very well.”

Said Federer, “I did hand the break over to him too easily in the third set, but overall I did well today. I could have maybe won the first set, but in the second set I was getting better and better. It is a pity that I couldn’t have been tougher in the third. He did really well to serve it out. The last few of his service games were very solid. I was happy that after a lot of tough matches, I was able to withstand the challenge physically. The atmosphere was amazing. I really appreciate the crowd support.”

Federer had been attempting to win six or more titles at his fourth different tournament. He has won six or more crowns at Wimbledon (7), the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (6) and the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (6).

“Normally I feel like him, because I lost in the [London 2012] Olympics and other important matches against him," said del Potro. "Luck was on my side today and I played better at the end of the match.

“I think Roger is playing well. He played much better when he has the chance to play the top guys. His game improves automatically and looking forward to Paris and London he will be a tough opponent. For me he has the perfect game… and he is a big inspiration. I am very proud to have a good relationship with him, as I have learned a lot as a person and a tennis player."

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