As I wrote yesterday, there were hints that Roger Federer would pass up playing the final Masters event of the year in Paris, to rest up for the real Masters next month in London. And after losing to Juan Martin Del Potro in a thrilling third set breaker in the Basel final, that’s just what he did.
”I’m not going. It’s the only right decision for me,” said Federer who won the Paris title last year. ”I had some niggling stuff and I didn’t want to take a chance obviously before the World Tour Finals. I need some time to prepare.”
And it probably is the right move for Roger – No. 1 was such a longshot anyway.
Federer’s withdrawal hands Novak Djokovic his second straight finish as the No. 1 player in the world. Djokovic enters Paris with about a 2,000 points lead, a deficit the Swiss cannot makeup up at London alone. So congrats to Novak.
And Andy Murray does have a crack at Federer’s No. 2 ranking, but he’ll have to win either Paris or London to hold any hope (he’s about 2K behind Roger).
As for the Basel match, credit to Del Potro who seemed to be heading for a third straight gut wrenching defeat to Federer. Roger had multiple break points mid-way through the third set but just couldn’t convert. And Del Potro capitalized on Federer’s errors to finally get his first win on him this year after six losses.
“It was an unbelievable final, the match was really close,” said Del Potro. “After six losses, it was a big win for me. I was fighting all the time. I got lucky in the end, but I felt that I played a really good match.
“I was focused on my defensive game, keeping the ball in play and building my confidence in order to break his serve. It was tough for both of us. I was to enjoy this title, then get ready to play in Paris and London.”
It wasn’t Federer’s best performance, but against a zoned-in Del Potro getting that close is a strong effort indoors.
“I thought overall I played pretty good,” said Federer. “He got off to a bit of a better start, but it was close. He served well at the beginning, which made him the better player in the first set. The second set was close. He didn’t play a very good tie-break and then I had my chances early on in the third. I couldn’t break, despite doing the right things, but then I didn’t play a good tie-break myself.”
Del Potro’s now won nine straight matches heading into a tough section of the draw in Paris where he’s mixed in with John Isner and Novak Djokovic. But with his power and form he’s going to be a force, and hopefully he can carry this over into 2013. Nice to have him back and healthy again (knock on wood!).
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