Basel Flashback: Juan Martin del Potro edges Roger Federer to steal the crown



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Basel Flashback: Juan Martin del Potro edges Roger Federer to steal the crown

Suffering an early loss to Ivan Ljubicic in 2003, Roger Federer had stayed away from his hometown ATP event in Basel, returning in glory in 2006. Until 2011, Roger would reach six straight finals in front of the home crowd, lifting five trophies and suffering a loss to Novak Djokovic in the 2009 title clash.

Seeking the sixth Basel title in 2012, Federer had to work hard in the second round against Thomaz Belluci, prevailing in three tight sets and raising level against Benoit Paire and Paul-Henri Mathieu to advance into the ninth Basel final.

After four wins over the rivals ranked outside the top-30, Roger faced the first highly-ranked opponent in world no. 8 Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine toppled the home favorite 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 to dethrone him and claim the 13th title in a career, the fourth and last of the season.

It was Juan Martin's third victory over Roger in 16 encounters, the first since the ATP Finals 2009. In their previous match, Federer prevailed 19-17 in the third set of the semi-final at the Olympic Games at Wimbledon.

The Argentine served revenge in the hometown of the Swiss to join the list of notable Basel champions. Federer fired 18 aces and faced only two break points, losing serve once in the opener and doing everything right in his service games in sets two and three.

On the other hand, del Potro fended off all five break opportunities, prevailing in the crucial moments to cross the finish line first and celebrate the title. Juan Martin had almost 40 winners and just over 20 unforced errors, while Federer fired 44 winners and 40 mistakes, unable to tame his strokes more efficiently and defend the crown.

Nothing could separate them in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, with del Potro building the crucial advantage in the most extended rallies to lift the trophy. Del Potro won the battle of the backhands in the fifth game to score a break at 15, moving 4-2 in front following another backhand mistake from the Swiss.

In 2012, Juan Martin del Potro prevailed over Roger Federer in Basel.

Serving for the set at 5-4, the Argentine held at 30 thanks to Roger's backhand mistake, sealing the opener and taking a big step towards the finish line.

Juan Martin saved a break point in the second game of the second set with a forehand down the line winner, creating his opportunity at 5-5 that Roger denied with a forehand crosscourt winner to stay alive. The home favorite won the tie break 7-5 to grab the set and gather a massive momentum ahead of the decider, led by the partisan crowd.

At 1-1, Roger squandered three break chances before Juan Martin closed the game with an ace, in one of the crucial moments of the encounter. The Swiss earned another break opportunity at 3-3 but it wasn't to be for him, spraying a forehand error and allowing his rival to stay in touch until the tie break.

The first mini-break came in the sixth point when Federer's forehand found the net, with del Potro moving 6-3 in front following a loose backhand from the defending champion. Juan Martin sealed the deal in the next point when Roger sent a backhand wide, beating the Swiss for the first time in three years and lifting the fourth crown of the season.