In some old videos from big indoor ATP tournament in Basel we could see young Roger Federer who served as a ball boy in his hometown tournament, just a few years before he made his debut in the main draw against Andre Agassi in 1998 at the age of 17. He reached the quarter-final a year later and the first final in 2000, losing to Thomas Enqvist in five sets and missing a chance to lift the title in front of his family and friends, still as a teenager.
Roger kicked off his third Basel campaign with the first round clash against Tommy Haas, looking to avenge that hard loss in the semi-final of the Olympics games in Athens a few months earlier when Tommy won 6-3 6-2. This time Federer served a cold revenge in front of his fans, beating the German 6-3 6-3 in 70 minutes for the place in the second round, saving the only break point he faced and stealing Haas' serve three times to seal the deal in no time at all. Federer was already ranked inside the Top 40 and his immense talent was obvious after just a few minutes of watching him on the court, especially on that fast indoor carpet surface that suited his game nicely.
Tommy was world number 20 at that moment but he stood no chance against Roger in his hometown, unable to make a damage on the return and losing too many points on his serve against the youngster who kept the points on his racquet to that the momentum away from his rival.
Federer was firing on all cylinders, using every opportunity to attack and finishing the match with 40 winners overall. He was more efficient from the field than from his serve, making a lot of damage with his forehand and volley, keeping Haas out from the comfort zone and taming his shots nicely to make fewer errors than his rival.
Roger produced better numbers in serving segment and his first groundstroke after the serve allowed him to impose his shots and play the points on own terms. Two points in the video from this match were not recorded, at deuce in the fifth game of the second set, but Haas won them both and that didn't change the overall picture and the numbers behind Roger's triumph.
The Swiss was 19-13 in front in service winners and 21-10 in the winners from the field, firing 40 direct points in total compared to 23 from his rival. Such an aggressive approach caused only 14 unforced errors from Federer, the most with his forehand, while Tommy made 13, missing equally from both wings.
Nothing could separate them in the forced errors as well, with 12 for Roger and 11 for the German, and Haas had five double faults to plague his chances even more. Gathering all the numbers together, Roger had 40 winners and 26 errors (only seven from his backhand) while Tommy stood on a negative 23-29 ratio, unable to force a more positive result.
They split the 12 longest points that went beyond the eight shot but Federer had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to leave Haas far behind him. It was 42-32 in Roger's favor in the shortest points up to four strokes and 21-11 in the rallies between five and eight shots, delivering more fire from his serve and groundstrokes and making the better shot selection to cement his win and reach the second round.
Roger opened the match with three winners and he managed to reach deuce on the return in game two after being 40-0 down. Nonetheless, Tommy held with two winners but Roger was again too powerful on own serve, hitting three winners in game three to move 2-1 ahead.
Hass had to save a break point in game four, doing so with a nice volley winner and closing the game with rival's forced error to level the score at 2-2. The fifth game brought some troubles to Roger after being 40-0 up, making three forced error to keep the Germa in the game before he completed it with two service winners, avoiding break points.
It was time for some of Roger's magic on the return in game six, breaking Tommy at love with two beautiful volleys for a 4-2 lead and cementing the break with four service winners in game seven to increase his lead. There was another deuce in Haas' service game but he hit four winners overall in that eight game to make a hold and reduce his deficit to 5-3, forcing Roger to serve for the opener.
The youngster did that in style, firing his 19th winner since the start of the match to grab it 6-3 after just 32 minutes of play. Federer had the upper hand both from his serve and from the field, creating an 8-5 gap in service winners and an even bigger 13-5 in the winners from the field.
He made a little bit more errors (7-5 in unforced and 7-6 in forced) which could never imperil his chances of taking the opening set. Haas raised his level at the start of the second set, delivering three winners in the opening game and creating his lone break point in the game that followed.
Roger saved it with a service winner and he would lose just three points in his games by the end of the match, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net. Tommy held in game three after being 30-0 down and Roger leveled the score at 2-2 with four service winners in game four, erasing two volley errors he has made in that game.
Tommy saved a break point in game five but he was miles away from another chance on the return as Roger closed the sixth game with three winners. The seventh game was by far the longest of the match and Tommy squandered four game points to get broken, making six mistakes in total to give his serve away and found himself in a very tough position before the rest of the match.
Roger blasted four winners in game eight to move 5-3 ahead and he sealed the deal with another break in game nine after a double fault from the German. Federer was again in front in terms of winners, leading 11-8 in service winners and 8-5 in the direct points from the field.
Nothing could separate them in the errors department, with 7-6 for Roger in unforced errors and 5-5 in forced, but it has to be said that Tommy had three double faults, which didn't help him either. Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: