Eyes On The Prize: Roger Races Into 14th Basel Final
Federer advanced to the championship match of his hometown tournament for the 14th time on Saturday, racing past in-form Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-4 in just 65 minutes. The Swiss has made the final in Basel in 12 straight appearances, improving his record in semi-finals at the tournament to 14-1, with his only loss coming in 2002 against David Nalbandian.
"I'm very happy. I think it was my best performance this week," Federer said. "I'm starting to really get to understand the conditions and it was consistent, my most consistent match by far. The results show it as well, so I'm very happy."
The 37-year-old is not only on the verge of his ninth Basel triumph, but he can lift his 99th tour-level trophy. Federer is second on the all-time singles titles list, trailing only Jimmy Connors, who was victorious 109 times in his career.
The Swiss played his best match of the week against Medvedev, who has captured his first three ATP World Tour titles this season. After saving a break point in the first game of the match, Federer cruised through the first set in just 20 minutes and he would take a 6-1, 5-1 lead.
While Medvedev, who had won 22 of 27 tour-level matches heading into the match against Federer, broke the top seed to stay alive, the eight-time tournament champion served out the semi-final at the second time of asking. It was especially impressive considering Medvedev pushed Federer to three sets in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting two weeks ago at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
"I don't think Daniil maybe played as well as then [in Shanghai]. Conditions are different, maybe also his legs were a little bit heavy. He's played a lot of tennis the past few weeks, so I understand," Federer said. "For me, it goes on. I'm really super-excited to be in another final here in Basel and I hope I can defend my title tomorrow."
In the final, Federer will face surprise finalist Marius Copil, who earned his second Top 10 win of the week with a stunning three-set victory against second seed Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals. It is the Romanian’s second ATP World Tour final, after finishing runner-up in Sofia earlier this year.
"I watched some against Cilic, he played great. Saw some against Zverev, he played great, too. He plays Federer, he plays great? I'm not sure. But anyway, I'm excited," Federer said. "He played a great match against Zverev. He served great when he needed to and then he had good variation from the baseline."
In 150 tour-level finals, Federer has never lost to someone ranked as low as Copil, who is currently World No. 93. The Swiss fell in championship matches to players ranked No. 87 twice, against Davide Sanguinetti at Milan in 2002 and Tommy Haas at Halle in 2012. Only one Basel champion — Jiri Hrebec, who captured the title in the tournament’s first edition in 1975 — did not break into the Top 10 in his career.
Did You Know?
Federer now has 70 match wins in Basel, including victories in 56 of his past 59 matches at the event.