Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic set the semi-final clash in Toronto 2010, the first since Basel 14 months ago. Novak took down Jeremy Chardy in straight sets in the quarter-final in Toronto while Roger prevailed over Tomas Berdych from the verge of defeat to arrange the 15th meeting against the Serb.
Speaking about their previous match during the press conference in Toronto, Djokovic said it felt special to beat Roger in his hometown of Basel the last autumn, playing on a high level in that one and hoping for more of the same in Toronto.
Roger had won 19 straight matches in Basel between 2006-2009, and he failed to secure the fourth consecutive title in his hometown following a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 loss to Novak. It was their 14th meeting and the fifth win for Novak, the third that season after Miami and Rome.
Roger served at 71%, and it was not enough to keep him safe against such a reliable returner, losing 38% of the points in his games and suffering four breaks from eight opportunities offered to Novak. The Serb played against 11 break chances, fending off nine of those to limit the damage and overpower the three-time champion for his maiden Basel crown.
Djokovic hit more winners and fewer unforced errors and stayed in touch with Federer in the shortest rallies up to four strokes. Besides that, nothing could separate them in the most extended exchanges with nine strokes or more.
However, Djokovic created the crucial difference in the mid-range rallies, where he outplayed Roger with a strong performance in the deciding set to end Federer's Basel streak. Both players served well in the opening eight games, and Novak drew first blood with a break for a 5-4 lead when Roger sent an easy forehand long.
Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the 2009 Basel final.
The tenth game has been one of the longest they ever played, containing 11 deuces and five break points before Djokovic emerged at the top after Federer's forehand error to secure the game after over 20 minutes and claim the opening set.
After netting a forehand, Roger got broken at the beginning of the second set and pulled it back at 1-2 after a drop shot winner. After Novak's forehand error, the home star grabbed another break in game ten to take the set 6-4 and send the encounter into a decider.
Nonetheless, Federer suffered a break in the opening game after a loose forehand, and Djokovic moved 3-0 up with another break that pushed him closer to the finish line. Serving at 4-1, Novak won five points in a row to repel three break chances and seal the deal with a hold at 30 in game eight after Roger's backhand mistake to emerge at the top and lift the trophy.
"I have to bring a positive approach against Federer tomorrow. I played so many times against him, mostly on the hard court, and there's not much to discuss. Roger is a great champion, and he showed that again today after coming from 5-2 down in the third set.
He has considerable support from the crowd here, and it's gonna be a tough one. Beating Roger in his hometown of Basel last year was special; I played really well in that final," Novak Djokovic said.