On this day: Roger Federer eases past Kei Nishikori for fifth Basel crown


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On this day: Roger Federer eases past Kei Nishikori for fifth Basel crown

After missing the home ATP event in 2004 and 2005, Roger Federer was back in Basel from 2006, standing as the player to beat there for the last 13 years and conquering ten titles overall. Back in 2011, the Swiss star couldn't follow the pace of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal despite good results at the most significant events but the tables turned after winning his fifth title in Basel on November 6, defeating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes to finish the season on a high note after winning the last 17 matches he played after the US Open, including titles in Paris and London as well!

Potito Starace was his first rival and Roger prevailed 7-6, 6-4, scoring just one break of serve but keeping his service games intact to secure the place in round two where he met Jarkko Nieminen for the third time in Basel.

Roger lost serve twice but grabbed five breaks from seven chances in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory that set the quarter-final meeting with Andy Roddick, whom he beat in Basel back in 2001 and 2002. Federer dominated from start to finish in a 6-3, 6-2 triumph, dropping ten points on serve and securing the win in just over an hour to book the semi-final spot against the compatriot Stan Wawrinka whom he beat 7-6, 6-2 for his eighth final in the hometown, facing Ke Nishikori there.

This was the first meeting between Roger and Nishikori who played in his third ATP final and the first on an indoor surface, performing well in the opening four matches but standing no chance against such a strong rival in front of his crowd and in the conditions he likes the most.

As we already said, the encounter lasted just 72 minutes and Roger was the dominant figure on the court, losing only six points on serve and saving the only break point he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the net and wait for his chances on the return patiently.

They had to come against the rival who couldn't rely on his initial shot and landed only 46% of the first serve in to put himself in an even worse position, facing 13 break chances and getting broken four times to settle with the runner-up spot after losing almost half of the points behind the initial shot.

Roger kept the rallies on his racquet, hitting 24 winners and 14 unforced errors while Kei could have placed only seven winners, unable to move Roger around the baseline and to create the gap in the more extended exchanges.

Federer had a clear advantage in the shortest points up to four strokes thanks to his booming serve and aggressive approach with the first groundstroke, forging the lead in the mid-range and long rallies as well to leave Nishikori without even a glimpse of a chance.

It was the worst possible start for the Japanese who lost five points in a row in the opening game to hand his game to Roger after a weak volley at the net. Federer confirmed the break with a service winner and moved 4-1 in front with another break of serve when Nishikori sent a forehand long.

A fantastic volley winner delivered another excellent hold for Roger and the set was in his hands after just 28 minutes when Kei hit a double fault to get broken for the third time in the seventh game. The lower-ranked player fended off break points at the beginning of the second set to end his downfall but Roger was just too good on the return, taking the ball early from inside the baseline and converting the fifth chance in the sixth game with a beautiful forehand lob winner that sent him 4-2 ahead, moving closer to the finish line.

Three service winners in the next game pushed Roger a game away from the victory and he hit another one to repel a break point while serving for the title at 5-3, placing an incredible forehand winner for the first match point and converting it with a smash winner to celebrate the fifth title in the last six years in the hometown.