As I expected it turned out to be a close match but, of course, I gave Nadal the edge and Federer ended up winning 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in what was a good contest. So all credit to Federer for proving me wrong and getting another win over Nadal at long last and in doing so winning his seventh Basel title and sixth title of the year. It hasn’t at all been a bad year for him. He just came up short again when it mattered most. With this confidence boosting victory, he will also be a big factor in the remainder of the indoor season in Paris and London. His draw is Paris is good so he should try to make the final there at least. As far as the match goes the opening three games made you think that we will see the usual result from a Fedal encounter because Federer went to deuce on his serve while Nadal held serve easily. But Federer soon hit his stride and played some very nice tennis. As you would expect, he was the one who looked comfortable on the fast indoor courts while Nadal was on the defense most of the time. Federer broke serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and he broke Nadal again in the ninth game to win the opening set 6-3. In the second set, he looked in control the whole time while Nadal was the one under pressure on serve. So it was against the run of play when Nadal broke serve in the eleventh game to take a 6-5 lead. He proceeded to hold serve and all of a sudden Fedfans were fearing the worst again. At least Federer was serving first in the deciding set which was a slight advantage. He broke Nadal in the eighth game after a loose game from Nadal where he made two uncharacteristic unforced errors late in the game to take a 5-3 lead.
Federer still had to hold serve to clinch the victory which was never going to be easy given he was up against his nemesis. On one match point, he served an ace which got called out but Layani overruled it to add some more to the drama. Then on the next point Nadal had a very good look at a passing shot but Federer guessed the correct side which was huge. On the second match point, Nadal sent a return long to the great relief of Federer and his fans.
What Does It Mean?
Not much, really. It basically means that Nadal does not utterly own Federer which would have been the case if he defeated him in Basel as well. Federer has over the years gotten some key wins over Nadal so although I thought Nadal would win today, I shouldn’t be all that surprised. A sixth consecutive loss to Nadal in his own country after having his best year since 2012 with the way Nadal has been playing this year would have meant the rivalry was truly dead and buried. Now at least the rivalry is on life support, as opposed to flatlining. There never was much for Federer to gain in this match as far as the rivalry goes. It was in Basel on a court that suits his game to the T so if there is one match where he is still the favorite to beat Nadal it was there. The only thing Federer had to gain from this match was to prove that the ownage is not complete. I’m kind of happy about it because that would have pretty much ended all Federer’s hopes of being the GOAT. Nadal would have owned him so utterly that no unbiased person would have called him the GOAT. At least now he is still in the conversation, but of course if Djokovic catches up with him he will be surpassed due to his head-to-head with Nadal. I am also glad about this result because it makes tennis more interesting. If Nadal won the rivalry would have been well and truly dead. Now at least there would still be a reason to watch any future meetings. For Federer to make any kind of serious statement in the rivalry he would need to win a slam meeting. But even then the slam head-to-head would still be 9-3 in Nadal’s favor. I don’t see it happening anyway if he can hardly beat Nadal in Basel. It will now also be very interesting to see what happens if they meet in London. It’s highly unlikely that they will meet in Paris as they are in opposing halves. In London, the courts are much slower than in Basel so probably Nadal becomes the favorite again there, but then again I said the same thing about Basel which is why it will be interesting. In the end I am happy for Federer because seriously, losing even in Basel to Nadal? That would have been a bit rough for a player with his record. It would have been another terrible stain on his legacy after all the losses he already suffered to Nadal. It’s good to see him regain some pride at least if nothing else.
What Is Left of the Tennis Season
So we are into the final stretch of the tennis season with only Paris and the grand finale left in London(Davis Cup too but I couldn’t care less about it). The eight players who will be present in London have also been decided with Ferrer and Nishikori taking the remaining spots. In the end, Nadal qualifies in the fifth spot which is almost surprising after the year he had. And he isn’t done. He could still be a factor in Paris and London. The Basel final loss was another very good result for him, especially after coming back in the second set and making it a very close match. Let’s get real. He has never passed the quarterfinals in Basel and he came very close to winning it on the worst possible surface for his game. Even at his very best it is doubtful whether he could have done that so he is right there with his game. Finally, Djokovic will be back this week and so will Murray. Djokovic will be fresh again after his exploits in Asia and history is now beckoning. It should be a very interesting last couple of tournaments. Djokovic has the opportunity to become the first man to win six Masters titles in a calendar year.
Given the court speed, you wouldn’t bet against him doing it. The court speed does not particularly favor Federer and the run in Basel will likely take a physical toll on him. Three out of his five matches went the distance and the final could have been particularly taxing. Even if Federer doesn’t win another title this year this title and the fact that he defeated his nemesis is a good end for him. Of course, losing early in Paris or suffering more losses to Djokovic and Nadal in London is not going to help his cause but if I was him or his fans I’d already be happy with his year. Sure he lost the two big ones but he is 34 after all. The limelight now belongs to Djokovic and if he wins Paris and London he will clock the best tennis season in history. The rest of the big four will do their best to stop him which will make the next three weeks a fun time in tennis.