Tomorrow we have arguably the best and most intriguing single matchup in tennis since the US Open with Roger Federer defending his turf, his title in Basel against Novak Djokovic.
Federer has been his usual self all week crushing all foes – granted his draw has been nothing sort of cush, but what else would you expect from an event that’s basically his own!
Meanwhile, after dishing a double bagel to Jan Hernych, Djokovic has struggled in three set wins over Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and then today he escaped Radek Stepanek’s worm dance by saving three matchpoints in the second set to win 6-7, 7-5, 6-2.
For some reason anytime Djokovic plays three sets his health and fitness comes into question in the following round. After consecutive three-setters, I really hope he’s 100% fit Sunday because he’ll need to be against Federer.
“He’s come through some tough ones against Wawrinka and against Stepanek today,” said Federer. “He showed some grit and I’m sure he’s going to try to do that again tomorrow. I hope I get off to a good start. I’ve been playing well this week, I haven’t been broken yet. I hope I can keep that run going and to get my fourth title here in Basel would be a real dream again.”
Head-to-head, Federer has owned Novak defeating the Serb in nine of 13 career meetings plus he’s won five straight sets in their last two meetings this year. Djokovic did beat Federer in that memorable racquet-smashing encounter in Miami and again on the clay in Rome so the two have split their four 2009 clashes. But Federer should prevail here in straight sets. He’s just playing better tennis and I don’t think he’ll lose in Switzerland.
“Like yesterday, I wasn’t the better player on the court,” remarked Djokovic. “My opponent today was playing quite good tennis and I still wasn’t managing to find my rhythm in some returns. But, yet again, I found a way through and won another match, which is definitely a big success for me, reaching another final. I’ll be motivated tomorrow and hoping that I can get another title.”
Valencia features its own marquee final with Andy Murray going up against the suddenly hot Mikhail Youzhny (the Russian’s lost one matchpoint in his last four events!). Both players are coming off tough three-set semifinals from today. Murray needed to go the distance to oust Fernando Verdasco while Youhzny ended Nikolay Davydenko’s run.
“I’m very happy to be in a final after coming off a long break and I’ll try to recover and do well tomorrow,” Murray said. “Youzhny played well against Davydenko. He’s been on a good run at the end of the year after not starting so well. He’ll be back in the Top 20 after this week so I’ll obviously have to play well to beat him.”
The two finalists played just once before back in 2007 St. Petersburg and Murray won that in a third set tiebreak. I like the Scot to win much more comfortably this time around.
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