World number 3 and an eight-time Basel champion Roger Federer has made a winning start at home event after a 6-2 4-6 6-4 triumph over Filip Krajinovic in two hours and nine minutes. Back in March, Roger lost just three games against the Serb at Indian Wells but he struggled much more to earn the win tonight, losing a set in the opening round of Basel for the first time since 2008! This was the 40th win of the season for the Swiss and his 67th in Basel, also his 16th in a row in the hometown after losing in the final against Juan Martin del Potro in 2013.
Roger couldn't find the first serve in the entire match and he had to play against 14 break points, the most in front of the home fans since 2000 and the clash against Lleyton Hewitt. Krajinovic converted four of those but it wasn't enough for the triumph, losing 46% of the points in his games and giving his serve away six times to end his run in the opening round.
The Swiss had 38 winners and the same number of unforced errors while Krajinovic stood on a 21-22 ratio, giving his best to match the rival's pace but losing serve twice from the eight break points in the deciding set.
Roger served at only 37% in the opening set but he won all 10 points after landing it in, struggling with the second serve to give Filip two break points in the fourth game that he successfully defended to keep his serve intact.
On the other hand, Filip also served below 50% and that affected his game to a much higher extension, giving Roger two break points and failed to save any in a 6-2 defeat. Filip made a great start, losing just one point in the opening two service games and creating those break chances that could have pushed him in front in the fourth game.
The Swiss fends them off with service winners, bringing the game home and breaking Filip in the following game after a deep return that the Serb couldn't control. Four service winners sent Roger 4-2 up and he broke Krajinovic again in game seven to serve for the set in the following game.
An eight-time champion secured the opening set with an ace in game eight for a 6-2 after just 30 minutes, taking full control in the last 15 minutes and hoping for more of the same in set number two as well. Carried by the momentum he built, Roger painted a return winner to open the second set with a break and he confirmed the lead with four winners in game two for another big step towards the finish line.
Krajinovic finally held with ease in the third game to stop his downfall but Federer held at love in the fourth game to maintain the lead before facing two break points in the sixth game. He saved those with service winners but Filip found the way to break on the third with a volley winner, leveling the score at 3-3 for a little bit more drama.
The Serb was now back in the match, repelling another break point in the seventh game and creating a chance on the return in the next one, converting it after a poor forehand from Roger who got broken for the second break in a row, allowing Krajinovic to serve for the set! Out of sudden, the Swiss excelled his game to break back at love with a backhand down the line winner, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and keeping chances of finishing the match in straight sets alive.
Still, his serve just wasn't there and he suffered another break in game 10 after a poor forehand to hand the set to his rival who has become the first player who took a set away from Roger in the opening round of Basel since Bobby Reynolds in 2008! Despite this setback, Federer stayed composed and he broke in the third game of the final set to forge a lead, saving a break point in the next game and holding with an ace for a 3-1.
A smash winner gave Roger another break point but Filip did well to erase it and bring the game home to stay within one break deficit. That became even more significant when Roger hit a double fault to offer three break points in game six but Krajinovic wasted them to miss a chance for another turnaround.
Roger converted the fourth break point in the seventh game after a volley winner and he served for the win to finally bring the match home. Filip had other plans, though, breaking Roger for the fourth time to prolong the match and holding to reduce the deficit to 5-4.
Serving for the match for the second time, Federer held from 30-0 down to cross the finish line and move into the second round where he will face Jan-Lennard Struff. First round results: