Read & Watch: Federer Has To Fight Through Basel Opener
Roger Federer had to shake off some rust, but the eight-time champion eventually rediscovered his “Basel” gear and leaned on the home crowd to advance 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Tuesday against Serbian Filip Krajinovic.
The 37-year-old Swiss won his 16th consecutive match at the Swiss Indoors Basel, since losing the 2013 final to Juan Martin del Potro. Federer is trying to reach his 14th hometown final and capture career title No. 99.
“It was a bit more of a hard-fought victory, but they feel good too, especially knowing that I have the day off tomorrow, so it's no problem having played three sets today,” Federer said.
The World No. 3 wasn't his usual self throughout the match, and especially at the start. Federer shanked forehands and missed whenever he stepped into the court in the beginning. The top seed faced two break points, at 15/40, 1-2, but saved both and broke immediately after, slapping a second-serve return for the first break of the match.
From 1-2 down, Federer won the next seven games against the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist. But Krajinovic relaxed in the second and broke Federer, who struggled to find his forehand all match (23 unforced errors), in the eighth and 10th games to take the second.
Behind the red-and-white clad home crowd, however, Federer upped his first-serve percentage and advanced, despite being broken while first serving for the match at 5-3. The Swiss landed only 47 per cent of his first offerings overall.
“I didn't serve very well today. I think I was misfiring the corners, I was not hitting the lines enough. Clearly you make your life more difficult, but still I was up 6-2, 3-1, break points, so things could have ended very quickly today, even though I didn't have the best serve percentage stats. But maybe that's exactly what caught up to me eventually,” Federer said.
“It's just getting used to it. This is where the first rounds can be tricky.”
He will next meet German Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat Aussie John Millman 7-6(3), 6-2. Federer has won all three of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including two earlier this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Elsewhere, seventh-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, who is currently at a career-high No. 20 in the ATP Rankings, knocked out Maximilian Marterer of Germany 6-3, 7-5 in 85 minutes. It was Medvedev’s 40th match win of the year (35-13 on hard courts), which includes three ATP World Tour titles at the Sydney International (d. De Minaur), the Winston-Salem Open (d. Johnson) and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 (d. Nishikori).
In other action, qualifier Alexei Popyrin recorded his first ATP World Tour match win over fellow Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes, while Italian Andreas Seppi knocked out qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan 6-0, 6-4 in 63 minutes.