Another solid performance from Roger as he swept past Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5 6-4 in 86 minutes to make his 9th Basel final.
After looking far better in his match against Paire, Roger continued in similar form today, serving fairly well and never really looking troubled by Mathieu.
With Fed leading the H2H 5-0 it was always going to be an uphill task for Mathieu and I wasn’t sure what to expect. They haven’t played since the US Open in 2010 and I don’t really have much recollection of that match but after watching today it’s plain to see Mathieu is a great match up for Roger.
He doesn’t really have it in him to dictate play and apart from his backhand down the line there’s no real dangers for Roger to worry about. He’s never really the one pressuring his opponents and looks to stay in the point more often than not which rarely gets the job done against Fed.
Despite not being able to trouble Roger in his service games I thought Mathieu served pretty well himself and did well to not let Roger get an early lead. You felt like Fed was in a few of his service games but he kept pulling off the holds until he finally got broken at 5-5.
I thought after Roger crucially broke and served out the set he’d be able to pull away in the second but it was almost an action replay of the first. A few 30 all chances on the Mathieu serve that didn’t amount to anything, Roger holding comfortably and then finally breaking through at the business end of the set to seal the deal.
All in all I think this was a good performance, like the Paire match Fed didn’t get tested on his own serve so it’s difficult to asses fully where his game is at. He’s definitely improved as the tournament has progressed though and that’s all we can ask for.
I think the last couple matches give me good confidence. At least I know where my game is now, whereas the first couple rounds of any tournament, you’re not quite sure, I thought I’ve played a couple good matches. I’m excited about playing Juan Martin in the final. It’s great seeing him backing up his win in Vienna. We’ve played six times already this season. We had a couple of tough ones at [Roland Garros] and the Olympics. We can look back at some great matches and hopefully live up to another one tomorrow. I’m ready to go.
Federer Interview; Looking Forward to Del Potro Clash
Predictions vs. Del Potro
This one could be very interesting, Del Potro is on an 8 match winning streak and Roger still isn’t at his best. Fed has won all 6 meetings between them this year but there’s been a couple that could have gone either way notably at the French Open and then the Olympics.
I figure Roger is slight favourite given that it’s indoors and in his home town but I think he has to serve way better than he has all week, he was steady today but it has to go up another notch. If he serves well then he tends to return better and that is going to be all important for trying to break the Del Potro serve. He looked pretty powerful today against Gasquet so break point opportunities could be few and far between so if one arrives it has to be taken.
I’ve been saying all week Fed won’t win Basel but now he’s in the final then it’s tough not to back him. Del Po won’t be a push over that’s for sure but if Roger can serve well then he should just have a bit too much in the locker.
I should also add there’s yet more history on the line because if Fed wins he’ll equal McEnroe for 77 titles which is another huge milestone after he drew level with the American today for 875 match wins.
Interesting Mathieu Documentary
I also thought I’d share with you this YouTube Clip on Mathieu I found courtesy of Rob Koenig who mentioned it on the commentary in todays match. For those of you that don’t know he missed all of the 2011 season due to a serious knee injury. It was touch and go whether he’d make it back and he even contemplated retirement. This clip shows the extensive rehabilitation program he went through to get back on court.
The clip is French but even if you don’t understand all of what they’re saying (which I don’t) it’s still worth a watch as you can easily get the gist of it and see his journey back to the game. Also check out the 6 minute mark for a unique style of tennis!
Video removed from YouTube