Basel Flashback: Roger Federer wins fifth title over Kei Nishikori

Roger Federer secured his fifth Basel title in the previous six years in 2011

by Jovica Ilic
Basel Flashback: Roger Federer wins fifth title over Kei Nishikori
© Harold Cunningham / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Roger Federer started his Basel reign in 2006. The home star secured his fifth hometown title in 2011, beating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes. Roger defended the crown claimed a year ago, saving his best tennis for the title clash and lifting another title in front of his family and friends.

Federer could not follow Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the opening ten months of the season, but the Basel title boosted him toward 17 straight triumphs. Roger kicked off the action against Potito Starace and prevailed 7-6, 6-4 after a single break of serve.

Federer played his third Basel match against Jarkko Nieminen and ousted the Finn 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 with five breaks on his tally. Thus, he set the quarter-final meeting with Andy Roddick, whom he beat in Basel 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, booking the semi-final spot. In an all-Swiss clash, Roger ousted Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 6-2 for his eighth hometown final, facing Kei Nishikori in the title clash.

It was the first meeting between Roger and Nishikori, who played in his third ATP final and the first on an indoor surface. The Japanese performed well in the opening four matches but stood no chance against such a strong rival in front of his crowd and the conditions he liked the most.

As we already said, the encounter lasted 72 minutes, and Roger was the dominant figure. He lost six points on serve and saved the only break point to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. Nishikori could not rely on his initial shot, landing in only 46% of the first serve and losing serve four times from 13 chances offered to Federer.

Roger Federer stormed over Kei Nishikori in the 2011 Basel final.

Roger kept the rallies on his racquet with 24 winners and 14 unforced errors. In comparison, Kei placed only seven winners, struggling to move Roger around the baseline and 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. The home star forged the lead in the mid-range and lengthy exchanges, leaving Nishikori without even a glimpse of a chance.

It was the worst start for the Japanese, losing five points in a row in the opening game to hand it 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. He wrapped up the set after just 28 minutes when Kei hit a double fault at 1-5, getting broken for the third time. The lower-ranked player fended off break chances at the beginning of the second set, ending his downfall.

However, Roger was just too good on the return. He took the ball early from inside the baseline and converted the fifth chance in the sixth game with a beautiful forehand lob winner that sent him 4-2 ahead and closer to the finish line.

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

Roger Federer Kei Nishikori