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Federer begins title defense at Basel

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Roger Federer faced off against Benjamin Becker in his first match at the Swiss Indoors tournament. Becker put up a tough fight in the first set while Roger still seemed as if he hadn’t quite shaken off the rust that we saw in the Shanghai Masters. He wasted 7 break point opportunities before finally converting his 8th break point to win the set 7-5. He never looked to be in major trouble but was nowhere near his clinical best. In the second set, he actually got broken to give Becker a 3-2 lead. However Becker was unable to convert the break as in the next game Roger broke right back to even it up at 3-3. It seemed getting broken had done the trick and pristine Roger suddenly reappeared. Once he held serve at 4-3 he quickly broke Becker again to go up 5-3. Serving for the match, the Swiss Maestro fired three straight aces to go up 40-0. A few seconds later it was game, set, match Federer, 7-5 6-3. Roger has now won 65 matches this year and lost 9. 

As we have seen recently, these days Federer can’t seem to race away to a commanding lead, he is having to settle into a rhythm before finding his form. His serve bailed him out at times yesterday, it got better towards the end, but overall he’s still getting in only 56% of his serves. He needs this to go up to a healthy mid 60s. Of course when he is getting the first serves in, he is winning points 82% of the time. He had 2 double faults but he also had 10 aces, and the last 3 coming in succession while on serve to win the match. This will give him some satisfaction no doubt especially since it was a nice counterpoint to the 3 double faults he doled out against Murray at the Shanghai Masters semis. Federer said,

“I don’t know exactly how I changed it around, he broke me at 2-3 but I was able to get it straight back. It all went so fast at the end, but the first set was really tough.”

His second set performance was much more promising than his first and it was over in a flash, typical FedEx style. He kept improving as the match went on. However, slow starts are not typical Federer. He usually blind sights his opponents in the first set before they get a chance to find their rhythm. That formula has worked for him in the past and he needs to get that plan working again. His serves need to be more on point to supplement his usual attacking playing style. Else he might not get over the final hurdles of Wawrinka and del Potro who will pose much bigger challenges than the German qualifier did yesterday. Roger will next face either Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci or Japan’s Go Soeda.

Elsewhere in the first round, Julien Benneteau of France beat Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 4-6 6-3 6-3 while Pole Lukasz Kubot advanced over Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-4 6-4. Richard Gasquet also came back from a set down like his fellow French compatriot to beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Today’s lineup of Round 1 matches is as follows:

Mikhail Youzhny, RUS v. Bernard Tomic, AUS
Marco Chiudinelli, SUI v. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, ESP
Stanislas Wawrinka, SUI    v. Nikolay Davydenko, RUS
Viktor Troicki, SRB v. Grigor Dimitrov, BUL
Matthew Ebden, ROU v. Victor Hanescu, ROU
Radek Stepanek, CZE v. Brian Baker, USA
Jarkko Nieminen, FIN v. Kevin Anderson, RSA
Thomaz Bellucci, BRA v. Go Soeda, JPN


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