The Indoor season this year has had some spectacular finales to wrap up the tournaments. Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai, to name a few. The trend continues today in Basel, where we have Juan Martin Delpotro, in white hot form taking on Roger Federer, who is trying to secure a place in the Top Eight players in the ATP Race this year. Delpotro is playing in the final for a 3rd consecutive tournament after having mixed results in the finals in Tokyo and Shanghai. Roger Federer finds himself in the final of a tournament for only the 3rd time this year – a clear indication of the sub-par year he has had.
Juan Martin Delpotro has been playing some brilliant tennis through this year [remember Wimbledon?] and since the US Open he has cranked up those forehands and has been using the backhand effectively and his serve is as threatening as it has ever been. The results have been there for everyone to see. Delpotro won the title in Tokyo after a wonderful semi-final with Nicolas Almagro. In the final, Delpotro comfortably diffused the threat Raonic posed. He followed this good form to Shanghai where he put in the best performance of this year’s Indoor season to take apart Rafael Nadal in the semi-final. Delpotro was denied in the final in Shanghai by the narrowest of margins by the reigning Indoor King, Novak Djokovic.
Roger Federer’s year has been mediocre, to put it mildly, by the Swiss Maestro’s own high standards. The Indoor season is, arguably, Federer’s best part of the season. He uses this part of the season to make up for lost ground and to set the tone for the next year. As with the rest of this Annus Horribilis for Federer nation, Shanghai proved a let down as the 17-time Grand Slam Champion was ushered out of the tournament, in the pre-quarter finals by Gael Monfils. Federer, however, seems to have righted the course in Basel, with some impressive wins, most notably against Grigor Dimitrov.
Delpotro has had a relatively easy draw, as the number one seed in this tournament and as the other top players in his half fell by the wayside, he has had a much needed “relaxing” path after his gruelling matches in Tokyo and Shanghai. Considering the circumstances, it is suprising that Delpotro was tested by his lesser know semi-final opponent Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Delpotro did close out the match in dominating fashion, but his hiccup in the 2nd set should give the Federer camp some chinks in the armour to target during the final.
Federer started the tournament with a challenging draw [which is par for the course for this newer version of Federer] and credit to the man for being up to the challenge. In a blockbuster quarter-final match that had the attention of the entire Tennis Galaxy, Roger schooled Dimitrov and gave his legions of fans cause for hope. Things did get quite tricky in the semi-final match against the less-heralded Pospisil but Federer pulled the match out of fire, just in the nick of the time.
So, here we are then, a wonderful and promising contest between two of the biggest stars in the Tennis Galaxy and let us take a look at what each man will have to bring to the table to get the all important win. Federer will have to serve well and use his variety, most importantly the slice to keep the ball low and to draw Delpotro in to the net on Federer’s terms. Delpotro will have to pressure the Roger Federer backhand and turn this match into a hitting contest and avoid “Cat and Mouse” games – Federer more often than not turns out to be the Cat in such games.
Prediction: In my pre-tournament pick, I had Delpotro winning the tournament in 2 tight sets. From what I have seen from the two finalists, I think I will stick with Delpotro in 3 sets.
Please take a look at the last year’s minor classic of a final between the same players. Let’s hope today’s match will be filled with similar level of shot-making from these two Champions. #BringItOn!