The much expected David Goffin resistance turned into an anti-climax as the master champion Federer broke the Belgian twice in each set to win the Basel Indoors final. In 9 final appearances at Basel, Federer has now won the tournament 6 times in his hometown, where he served as a ball-boy in his kiddy days. Very aptly and much to the great delight of ball boys and ball girls, Federer threw a celebratory pizza party. It wasn’t the first time, however, that the ball kids have a got a treat from the champion tennis player. He had done it 10 times already and winning or losing was not so important for the Basel native. In the Spanish city of faraway Valencia, David Ferrer was not so lucky. The Valencia native lost in his semifinal match against Scotsman Andy Murray. The Scot finally went on to clinch the Valencia title and collected 500 crucial ATP points. But it wasn’t exactly a cake walk for Murray in his final match with a tough Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, who held 5 match points against the Briton. Murray had to do his best in a hard toil before coming through 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in the humdinger of a match.
At Basel, Federer broke Goffin in the opening game and began moving smoothly from then onwards. In the fifth game, Federer broke again despite Goffin saving one break point but on the second, the Belgian hit a backhand into the net. On his own serve, the Swiss number one reeled out four successive service games that ended after 40-0 and finished the set with an ace followed by a service that could not have been returned. The story was nearly similar in the second set, where the first break came at 3-2. With Goffin’s game crumbling against consistent winners and aces from Federer, he was broken again. Then it was time for the champion to serve for the match. To the delight of the home crowd, the 33-year old Federer sealed the 51-minute win with a delicate placement that caressed the net. Running with all the speed he could muster, Goffin managed to reach there but couldn’t put the ball back in Federer’s court.
After securing his title at Basel, Federer celebrated his Basel appearance with a customary pizza party with his young colleagues. Federer has a very special relationship with ball kids in Basel, where he began his career as a ball boy himself. It doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses; Federer’s famous pizza party is a tradition at Basel. The ball boys and girls responded with uninhibited enthusiasm and the 2014 pizza party became a big hit. It was in 2011 that Federer won at Basel last time but he has been finishing runners up to Juan Martin del Potro for the last two years. Del Potro couldn’t come this year since he is unwell. The Basel Victory has enhanced Federer’s chances of overtaking Novak Djokovic and finishing 2014 as the world no.1. Including Basel, Federer has been undefeated in his last 12 matches and he has moved to within 500 points of Djokovic in the ATP standings. If he can win the BNP Paribas Masters at Paris, he could earn another 1000 points and a further 1500 by winning the World Tour Finals at London’s O2.
At Valencia Spain, Andy Murray scored another victory after winning last week’s Erste Bank Open title at Vienna, where he defeated David Ferrer in a hard-fought three-set battle. His final at Valencia was against Spain’s Tommy Robredo, who fought hard and held five match points against Murray in the match. But Murray too held on doggedly to win the last set tie-break 10-8. The thrilling battle between the Spaniard and the Scot lasted for 3 hours and 20 minutes with the crowd rooting for Robredo. After the first set was easily taken by Robredo, Murray raised his game in the second set but failed to convert three break points on Robredo serve. Had he taken any of those points, he would have led 5-2. But Robredo came back in the set to force the tie break. The Spaniard even held two match points but Murray foiled his spirited charge to level the set score 1-1. The battle between the duo continued in the deciding third set and yet again Murray lost his chance with Robredo serving at 4-5. The third set tiebreak was a battle of wits with fortunes fluctuating from one player to the other. The Spaniard had three more match points but Murray fended off each of them and finished the match with a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory. The Scot then collapsed on the court and had barely enough stamina to get to his feet for the customary across-the-net handshake with the equally tired Robredo.
The victory has taken Murray in a favorable position for securing a place in the season-ending eight-man Barclays ATP Tour finals in London. The others in the race are Kei Nishikori, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov. With Rafael Nadal withdrawing, another spot has become available to ease things for Murray.
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