Argentina isn’t the first country that pops into mind when you think of tennis, but in Basel, it just might be the second. Roger Federer is of course the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ in Basel, having won the tournament five times and reached the final on nine occasions. However, four of the last 12 winners have been Argentine, Juan Matin del Potro making up two.
The final of the 2013 tournament was what most people had hoped for – a match between defending champion (and top seed) del Potro and five time champion (although third seed) Federer. The second seed was Tomas Berdych, who surprisingly lost in round 1 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 to Ivo Karlovic.
The final was also a tightly fought contest, overall I’d say they were quite evenly matched. They both produced some good serves, and Roger clocked up 14 aces in total. The first set went to a tie-break, at one point Delpo looked to be coming out on top but crashed back down as Federer held to love. The home favourite did play better tennis than the Argentine in my opinion, but certain shots like the slice just weren’t working for him. Juan Martin won the set 7-6(3).
In the second set Federer came out and played a lot more openly, and was rewarded. He also seemed more agile and energetic than his 25 year-old opponent. Although this clip is from the third set, here is an example (1 min):
The five-time champion carried all the momentum into the final set, having won the second 6-2. However, del Potro broke his first service game. It was a total outlier from the way he played in the second and the rest of the third set, full of unforced errors from bad forehands. That cost, as neither player was again able to break the deadlock. Roger looked to be coming close towards the end, but the Argentine spent so long between serves, his usual calm facade was destroyed. The Swiss did play very well, but he definitely wasn’t as patient as he was when he was totting up two or three Grand Slams per year.
Nevertheless, we must credit Juan Martin del Potro for how he played, very calm, very consistent, he didn’t produce extraordinary tennis, but he took advantage of every poor backhand slice, every poor serve that came anywhere near him. The final score was 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4 – putting their overall head-to-head at 13-5 to Federer.
Retaining his title also means del Potro has qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals, and Federer will qualify if he wins his first match in Paris.
– Jacob Lee