Federer Returns To Basel With A Win
Even after a year away from the Swiss Indoors Basel due to injury, it looks as if top seed Roger Federer did not miss a beat.
The 36-year-old began his campaign for an eighth title in his hometown, defeating #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe for the third time this season, 6-1, 6-3 in 61 minutes.
Federer, who was a ballboy at the indoor event for two years and first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old in qualifying, advanced to 10 consecutive finals from 2006 to 2015, and at one point won five of six championships. His 12 total finals appearances in Basel are the most of any event he has competed in. If he can triumph again, he will capture an ATP World Tour-leading sixth title on the season.
The Swiss was tested by Tiafoe in the opening round of the recent US Open, needing five sets to eliminate the 19-year-old. But on Tuesday he had no such difficulty, breaking four times while not facing a break point himself. He won all of his first-service points to eliminate the teenager.
"Today I felt good from the beginning. I had a great first set and in the second set I had to reset and figure it out. Serving well alone is not good enough; you have to find yourself into the match on the return also," Federer said.
Federer will next face Frenchman Benoit Paire, who moved past American Steve Johnson, 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour, 50 minutes. The Swiss has won all four of their Fed Ex ATP Head2Head matchups without dropping a set. The pair’s last meeting came at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where Federer won 6-1, 6-3.
Defending champion Marin Cilic also got his campaign underway, advancing to the second round after Florian Mayer retired while the Croatian led 6-3.
"It’s good to be back here in Basel. I played a great tournament here last year and it’s good to continue in a good way," Cilic said. "I played a really good first set, served really well and unfortunately for Florian he wasn’t able to continue. Never nice to get that kind of a win. For me the focus is still to continue with the good tennis and hopefully I can also play really well in the next match."
Cilic is sixth in the Emirates ATP Race To London, as he attempts to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the third time (2014, 2016).
The Croatian will face either compatriot Borna Coric, who qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan on Tuesday when Federer beat Tiafoe, or home favourite Henri Laaksonen.
David Goffin earned an important victory himself in his Basel opener, besting recent Moselle Open champion Peter Gojowczyk in their first tour-level meeting, 6-2, 7-5.
The Belgian is currently eighth in the Emirates ATP Race To London. He will benefit from two crucial losses in the Race by contenders competing in Vienna. Sam Querrey, No. 11 in the Race, and Kevin Anderson, No. 12 in the Race, both lost their openers in Austria.
The upset of the day in Basel went to Leonardo Mayer, who ousted eighth seed Mischa Zverev, 7-5, 7-5. While the scoreline was close, Mayer stood out with his performance on the tricky left-hander's second serve, winning 64 per cent of those points. The Argentine will next play the winner between Jared Donaldson, who also qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals Tuesday when Federer defeated Tiafoe, or qualifier Marton Fucsovics.