And another record crumbles under the weight of this all time greatest. With his win over huge serving Karlovic Roger surpasses Vilas with 10 finals at a tournament. Roger is also joint third on the list with 9 finals(Wimbledon and Halle) with Nadal(French Open and Monte Carlo). And he is 5-5 in Basel finals and clearly he would like it to be a positive record after today, rather than a negative one. That would be especially satisfying given he lost in the final to Del Potro the last couple of years. But first he must beat Goffin who is on a 16-match winning streak, while Roger is on an 11-match winning streak himself. I think most people would agree that Roger goes into this match as the overwhelming favorite to win a 6th Basel title, but for that reason it is important that Roger should not underestimate his opponent.
The main problem for Goffin will be that he doesn’t have a big weapon to hurt Roger with. He is just an all round solid player that does everything well. Honestly Roger could not have asked for a more comfortable finals opponent, but he had to work hard to make the final. Istomin, Dimitrov, and Karlovic were all difficult opponents. Karlovic proved to be particularly tricky with his destructive serve, but Roger was just a class above in the end. Sure the home crowd support didn’t hurt, but in the end Roger would have won anyway. That is just the advantage of playing at home and all players are favored by their home crowd. I don’t think the Swiss crowd went overboard either. You see that kind of behavior everywhere and it is probably worse in Madrid for instance.
In the third set at 1-2 and Karlovic serving he went down 0-40 on his serve and the crowd was cheering for his unforced error or something(I don’t remember exactly), which caused him to double fault on break point. He clearly let the situation get to him but it had a lot to do with the pressure Roger put on him too. The crowd was just doing their normal thing and I think saying that is the only thing that caused Karlovic to be broken would be wrong. Karlovic was mentally fragile in that situation and it cost him the match. But like I said it had a lot to do with Roger as well who was once again mentally very solid. Roger was in trouble on his own serve at 4-4 in the first set again where I think he faced one break point. Then right at the start of the tie break Roger made a great stretch volley to avoid getting broken.
They traded mini breaks once and I think at 7-6 Roger had a shot at a pass but missed. Fortunately he got another opportunity at 9-8 and this time he made no mistake as he ripped a beautiful backhand pass cross court to claim the first set. Despite Karlovic having a pretty boring game with his massive serve I found this to be an absorbing contest. Karlovic really does have a massive serve and if you look at the highlights half of it is basically aces. Karlovic pulled out one of his best service performances and I think he played as well as he could, but still Roger found a way. In the second set out of nowhere Karlovic broke Roger at 4-3 after a couple of poor shots from Roger and a couple of Agassi-like returns from Karlovic. Karlovic held serve and it was all squared.
The GOAT marches on…
In the end the match stats were terrific and shows what a high quality affair it was. Karlovic’s serve was as good as it gets on a fast indoor court and yet Roger still found a way. Certainly this performance from Roger should not be underrated, even though he did get some help from the crowd at the end. Karlovic is not the kind of opponent that gives rhythm and allows Roger to put all his talents on display, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy watching it any less. I think it is great to watch the serving contest and Roger’s ability to win the most important points. So like I said Roger now plays Goffin who defeated young prodigy Coric 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Their only previous meeting was at the French Open in 2012 where Goffin actually won the first set against Roger in a tough four set match.
So I don’t think Roger will be taking him lightly, but if he keeps his recent form up I think he should be OK. Another interesting stat is that Roger can reach a 1000 career wins this year if he wins everything from here on including Davis Cup, and he can even afford to lose in one final. He is currently on 988 wins so if he wins everything from here on(which is not impossible) he will be on 1001 career wins. If he is to lose a match I’d prefer it be in the Paris final, as long as it is not against Djokovic as that could make it problematic to end the year #1. But ideally he just wins everything from here on. He is in terrific form so it is definitely possible, but like I said winning Basel is very important to me and after that I will basically just relax and enjoy. Chum jetze GOAT!