It’s been a while but I would have to say not since Cincy in August this year have we seen Roger Federer back in such form. As a fan I had hoped Fed would raise his first serve percentage to the mid 60s and I got my wish. And like I predicted, with better serving, all other aspects of Fed’s game improved as well. He won a ridiculous 96% points off his first serve, never even remotely faced a break point and returned better too. After the past few matches where fans were nervous till the end of the match, Roger got back to his Swiss precision best and his game today was a joy to watch.
The fact that Paire seemed overwhelmed certainly didn’t hurt the maestro. Paire committed 5 double faults and was highly inconsistent throughout, shanking forehands and backhands but also dropping pretty volleys and at one point hitting a smash that evoked even Roger to applaud the shot as well. Whether it was the occasion (Federer was one of the players Paire looked up to, growing up) or the run up to the QFs catching up with him, or more likely, just having to face an inspired Federer, Paire did not play his best tennis. He is enjoying a career high ranking however and should be leaving the tournament feeling quite confident at having made it this far in an ATP 500 series.
In the meantime, FedEx fans can heave a collective sigh of relief and satisfaction at their champion’s QF win, 6-2, 6-2 in 54 mins 46 secs. He has now reached his 10th SF at this tournament. And he goes in to the SFs in much better form than the past few weeks. He will face Paul-Henri Mathieu. The 30 year olds have met 5 times before with Federer winning all 5 times and only dropping one set in those encounters. Mathieu had briefly enjoyed a high career ranking of 12 back in 2008 and was showing flashes of having been a top 20 player against Dimitrov who was just too shaky at the big points to win his QF match. The French player won the match 7-6(2), 7-6(4). It appears young Dimitrov still has ways to go before truly living up to the ‘Baby Fed’ moniker he is (unfortunately) sometimes referred by.
Before Roger and Paul-Henri can duel it out, Seeds 2 and 3 will clash first at 2:30pm Basel time. Delpo fought back hard against Anderson from a set down to win the second set on tie break. Once Delpo took that set, Anderson fizzled and lost the third set 6-2. Final score, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, del Potro. The Gasquet-Youzhny match was genuinely beautiful to watch with two one-handers creating impossible angles and scintillating shots. Gasquet took the first set with relative ease at 6-2 but the second set was very tight with high quality tennis being played by both men. Gasquet just had that little bit extra and closed out the second set tie breaker to win the match in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6(5).
I am picking Juan Martin to win over Gasquet and Roger to crush Mathieu to set up a Delpo-FedEx final. Delpo lost the first time he played Gasquet when he was only 18 years old but since then he has won their next 4 encounters, 2 of which happened this year. The match should be interesting nonetheless and in the meantime, as a Fed fan I will of course hope for an easy win for Roger with his serve clicking and his attacking game in full display.