Roger Federer has tied John McEnroe’s total of 875 career match wins (fourth highest in the Open Era) and set up a meeting with del Porto for the 7th time this year by defeating Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hr and 26 mins and storming into the finals. Gorgeous shot making was the order of the day as both players put on a crafty match. It was closely fought with Mathieu showing why he is having a comeback season. He provided Federer 4 break points and saved 2 of them. However, the 2 breaks, one in each set, was all the Swiss needed. Despite his first serve percentage being 58%, he won 80% of his first serve points and 68% of his second serve points and never provided a break point opportunity. He fired 10 aces, committed no double faults and won a total of 69 points to Matheiu’s 60.
In the day’s first SF, an energized del Potro faced off against an inconsistent Gasquet who hit some beauties but struggled with the power of Delpo’s shots and committing unforced errors all over the place. What was expected to be a tough match turned out to be smooth sailing for the Tower of Tandil, winning the match 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hr and 7 mins.
And so Federer and del Potro will meet again this year. They have met 15 times in their career so far with del Potro only winning twice (though one of those times was his US Open Grand Slam final win in 2009). Of the 6 times they have met this year, 3 of them were in the QFs (including at the Australian Open and Roland Garros), one was in the Dubai SF and one in the finals at Rotterdam. Their most recent meeting however was probably the most memorable, the SFs at the London Olympics. Together they broke the record for the longest ever 3-set match in the Open Era, Federer finally winning it 3-6, 7-6(5), 19-17 after 4 hrs and 3 mins. Roger finally guaranteed himself a medal on his 4th Olympics attempt and won he won the silver while Murray won the gold. After going through such heartbreak it seemed destined that del Potro would be rewarded somehow and so it went when he rebounded to defeat Djokovic and win the bronze. Thus, both Roger and Delpo were able to stand on the Olympics podium.
Despite their lopsided H2Hs, their matches are always very tight and highly entertaining. As such, both men have a good deal of respect and admiration for the other. Del Potro had this to say about facing Federer,
“I was close in the Olympics and French Open but I never beat him this year. He has all the shots. He’s a very, very complete player.”
Federer is already looking forward to the match as well. He said,
“I’m excited to see how he is going to come out and play. We have had a couple of tough ones, at the French Open and particularly at the Olympics. I had a really hard time breaking his serve. The margins are extremely small…Now he is finally back to his real self again…He looked really impressive today.”
As a Federer fan I am hoping Roger somehow pulls through this one, even though I predict it will be quite a close match, and will in all likelihood go to 3 sets. Delpo looked perfect today, his only issues were just 2 double faults. However, playing with home crowd support I suspect Roger will find that extra push to come through at the very end. Tune in at 2pm Basel time to find out how this encounter turns out. Federer’s fans will have their fingers crossed!