Federer Needs Three To Advances In Basel; Upsets Continue In Valencia As Isner Gets Chopped Down
by Sean Randall | October 24th, 2012, 10:29 pm

Tomaz Bellucci once again had Roger Federer on the ropes but the Brazilian couldn’t do much more than win a set. Like an earlier encounter at Indian Wells, the lefty forced a third set against Federer before the Swiss prevailed 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-5 in the second round at Basel.

“He’s a good player. He has a good serve, good intensity and good decision making from the baseline,” said Federer. “It was a close match today and I’m happy I came through. He had many chances on my serve. It was intense. I think he’s got some good power and usually plays well against the better players.

“I think I struggled on the return,” he admitted. “I think I served smart. I played that part really well. I’m not too happy with my returning, but then again, he was a lefty and it was a change. Still, I would have hoped to have done a bit better.”

A five-time Basel champion, Federer has won 31 of his last 32 matches at the tournament. Next will be the winner of Paire-Kubot in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Richard Gasquet, who remains a serious contender for London especially with Paris next week, also advanced as did Grigor Dimitrov and Juan Martin Del Potro who won his first round match. Del Potro meets American Brian Baker Thursday.

In Valencia, after seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic withdrew yesterday due to injury, today the tournament lost two more top names. First John Isner fell to the diminutive David Goffin. Isner actually led by a break in the third when the Belgian almost suddenly broke the American twice to capture the win 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-4. The loss hurts Isner’s hope of qualifying for London. He’ll next a big result next week in Paris for any chance of extending his 2012 season.

Gilles Muller scored a nice upset knocking out Milos Roanic 7-5, 7-6. Like Isner, Raonic was also hoping to further his London bid. Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig who beat Lleyton Hewitt were also winners.


AGORA start 1:00 pm
G Muller (LUX) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR)
M Granollers (ESP) vs G Simon (FRA)
[1] D Ferrer (ESP) vs A Ramos (ESP)

Not Before 8:00 PM
S Querrey (USA) vs [6] N Almagro (ESP)
M Klizan (SVK) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)


CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[Q] L Kubot (POL) vs B Paire (FRA)

Not Before 4:00 PM
N Davydenko (RUS) vs [WC] P Mathieu (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 PM
B Baker (USA) vs [2] J Del Potro (ARG)

Not Before 8:00 PM
M Matosevic (AUS) vs K Anderson (RSA)
J Marray (GBR) / F Nielsen (DEN) vs [4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

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24 Comments for Federer Needs Three To Advances In Basel; Upsets Continue In Valencia As Isner Gets Chopped Down

Dave Says:

Today’s Federer-Bellucci match sold a lot of tickets for their December 6th exhibition match in Brazil.

Giles Says:

Fed played 3 sets against Becker, 3 sets against Bellucci. If he carries on needing 3 sets to win a match he will be a stretcher case come Paris and WTF!

Gannu Says:

Giles u are wrong…fed defeated becker in straight sets some 7-5,6-3 i think

Giles Says:

Gannu. My apologies – you are right, 2 sets to beat Becker but I think it was quite a long match.

trufan Says:


the first match was 88 minutes. This one was 123.

With a day’s break after each of these matches, he should be plenty fresh.

90 minute matches on indoor fast courts in an AC environment are not draining matches, by any sense of the term. Draining is playing DelPO 4.5 hours in the sun, serving to save the match 18 times in the 3rd set, with an olympics medal on the line. And we saw the effects of that.

Now Fed is in Basel, his home town. He will be fine.

Belluci, as a lefty, was always going to be a bit tough for Fed. I predict Fed will roll over his opponent in the QF and Semi. Hope there is a good final with DelPo.

RZ Says:

“Richard Gasquet, who remains a serious contender for London especially with Paris next week..”

I’d think with Paris next week, Gasquet’s contention will come to an end. He doesn’t do well in his home tournaments.

trufan Says:

Finally, Nadal stated the obvious – something we have all been saying since the US Open – he withdrew from Paris and London. So much for all those statements just in recent week!

Would love to see Federer play Dimitrov in the semi. That craze dropshot from Dimitrov was perhaps one of the best shots I have ever seen in tennis! No wonder he is touted at “baby Fed”. The only problem is – he has a one-handed backhand. With today’s racket technology and slow high bouncing surfaces, he is not going to win against players like Nadal with a one-handed backhand. I think, with Federer, we have seen the last person to win a slam with a one-handed backhand.

ertorque Says:

Truefan: think, with Federer, we have seen the last person to win a slam with a one-handed backhand.

I am with you on this. I mentioned something to this effect about 2 years back here in Tennis-X. What is even be more certain is that Roger will be the last single backhanded to ever hold the number 1 ranking in tennis.

steve-o Says:

Good match between Mathieu and Davydenko, unfortunately for Davydenko he lost in the third after being a break up.

MMT Says:

Trufan – Nadal beats plenty of players with two-handed backhands, and no 1-handed backhands are the same. Finally, there is a lot more that goes into Federer’s problems with Nadal than the backhand, which is just a piece of it.

I’ve seen him play a lot of matches against players with one-handed backhand, and as far as I can tell, the only one with the technical problems on that side against him is Federer.

Blake never had problems with it, Haas handles it pretty well and Almagro has more problems with his forehand than backhand against Rafa – in fact his backhand down the line is the most problematic shot Rafa faces when they play.

Of course, Nadal is generally a MUCH better player than those guys, but specifically the backhand is not the problem – Berdych also has a hard time with Nadal’s forehand to backhand combination and he’s 6’5″ and has a two hander – the issue is the way that stroke is constructed. Whereas Federer’s court positioning is closer to the baseline, making a high backhand problematic for him, Dimitrov stands further behind the baseline, which causes him to defend more, but gives him more leverage on that side.

Having said that, he is also a couple of inches taller than Federer, and as such, if he could correct some issues with racquet head speed and court positioning, would do better against all his opponents, not just Nadal.

Nadal did play Dimitrov in Rotterdam three years ago and it took him 3 sets to win – this was the year Dimitrov turned professional by the way – but even that doesn’t translate since they are both much improved, although I think Nadal more than Dimitrov.

Dave Says:

Good two warm up matches for Federer — he has a day to recover from each of his matches, so he’s not tired (yet). Roger needs the quality practice that Bellucci gave him, but he’s actually playing better in the first two rounds of Basel this year than he did last year. Federer was not going to crush Bellucci — who is with Federer’s Brazil exhibition tour in December — but Bellucci did outplay an initially sloppy Federer in tiebreak. But ederer knows he has to tighten up and start straight setting his remaining opponents if he wants to play Paris. So how he performs between Friday to Sunday (Paire, Mathieu/Dimitrov, Delpo/Gasquet) will be a good indication of his actual level. Bellucci played very well with nothing to lose — he beat Ferrer and Tipsarevic this year, and took Nadal to a tiebreak at Wimbledon. Bellucci would have probably beaten several top 10 players the way he played.


trufan: “Finally, Nadal stated the obvious – something we have all been saying since the US Open”
Yup, that’s what we have said. There was no logical reason for Nadal to return this year, unless he was training to make a run at the world tour finals. I have no doubt that Nadal and his experienced team made the decision (to shut down for the year) shortly after Olympics or earlier. These continual stories about Nadal returning this year were probably nothing more than publicity soundbites orchestrated by Nadal’s publicist (Benito) to keep him in public consciousness during his voluntary hiatus.


Humble Rafa: Study shows Federer is Aussie fans’ No.1. “Australians are very attracted to athletes who are seen as competitive and humble and Roger embodies these attributes.” For the third year running, Federer has upstaged Australia’s own football, cricket and swimming stars in the survey of Australians’ attitudes towards more than 200 Australian and international sporting icons.

alison Says:

Dave have to say how much i liked your post yesterday to Tennislover,even though i cant find it today,anyway i agree with you im not saying that Novak wont or cant win the WTF,i just dont think its as cut and dried as some people think,Djokovic has been quite vulnerable at the WTF in the past,he was beaten by both Ferrer and Tipsaravic last year,and if i remember rightly was actually a point from loosing to Berdych and been whitewashed.

steve-o Says:

The one-handed backhand offers some advantages: more natural feel on volleying and slicing, and greater power with less physical effort (at the cost of consistency). It is a stroke suited for shotmakers.

However, those are not so important in the modern game.

In baseline tennis, you don’t go for shots until you have run your opponent way out of position anyway. Therefore it’s not so crucial to be able to penetrate the court with a single winning shot. It’s more important to have a consistent shot that won’t break down.

The technique of a single-handed backhand is harder to learn, so there’s a disadvantage in trying to master it. Coaches are reluctant to invest the time needed to train their pupils how to do it (and many probably don’t know how to teach it anyway).

Volleying is a lost art, except for a small, eclectic assortment of practitioners like Stepanek. So that extra bit of feel one might get with a single-hander is not so important. The slice is mostly used for defense and not for constructing points, so again the one-hander doesn’t offer as much of an advantage as it used to.

My guess is that you can impart tons more spin with a two-handed backhand (I’ve only ever tried a single-handed), hence it is the preferred stroke of modern baseliners. More topspin makes shots safe and low-risk and that’s the characteristic of the modern game: minimum risk, the simpler your game the better.

Federer is the last of a nearly extinct breed and without his superlative skills and supreme dedication to doing it this way, I don’t think any lesser player can follow in his footsteps. Most players will take the safer path and learn a two-hander: it’s the quicker route to fame and fortune.

Who would spend years trying to learn a single-hander, only to find they couldn’t play that shot well enough to compete at the pro level? No one these days.

Tz Says:

@steve-o, very nice post that one

MMT Says:

Agree with almost everything you said, steve-o; the issue with the two-handed backhanded is one of expedience.

I personally switched from two to one when I was 14, and I can tell you that I have tried hitting two-handers since, and I cannot generate the power and spin that I can with the 1-handed stroke – the weak hand simply impedes the racquet head speed too much.

Having said that, what I lose is racquet head stability, and the ability to hit a flat backhand, especially defensively. For years I sliced all of my returns to that side, before I decided to retool that stroke and learn to come over it on returns and on the run. I still slice a lot, but I come over the backhand more since I’ve made some chances to the stroke production.

I agree that Federer is a special player who happens to have a 1-handed backhand, and lesser players will have trouble with it, but I’m certain he’s not the last talented young player who will come through the ranks with a 1-handed backhand.

In my opinion, the main advantage of the one-hander is the reach, the additional power and spin, and the aesthetics – I know a lot of players I’ve played have assumed I’m better than I am when they see me hit a 1-hander in the warm up like a ton a bricks, and even avoid it the first few games – fine by me.

The main thing is the footwork and the point of contact, regardless of whether you play with 1 or 2 hands on the backhand.

trufan Says:

MMT – I don’t know about you (you may be much more than a club level player) – but I can tell you, at my level (and I was a college level player, and now play more socially), the one-hander is not that much of a liability, since I don’t have to face a 3200 rpm topspin ball, like the one Nadal generates. I think it becomes more of a liability at higher levels of the game, TODAY.

Brando Says:

VAMOS JMDP! Officially through for WTF- excellent news for him:


Hope by the end of the year he is a solid, confirmed and established top 8 member.

Still think he’s the next guy in line who shall EVENTUALLY break into the top 4!

alison Says:

Brando Yeah great news for JMDP,and agree about the top 4,but just hope its not at our guys expence,so lets hope for a top 5 ranking instead lol.

skeezer Says:

To add, you can hit a succesful 2hander closer to your body than 1hander. You can create more power with a shorter backswing than a 1hander. A 1hander, if you utilize it, offers a greater variety, reach, and varied volleying skill at the net. Agreed its not used that much in the modern game, but as the game evolves don’t count it out……it may very well come back. And don’t tell Steffi Graf nor Lendl nor Fed the Slice is not a weapon.

I agree that the Teachers embrace the 2 hander. The reason is because the small kids don’t have the strength to hit a 1 hander when they are itty bitty. ( Sampras hit a 2 hander as a young junior, then went to a 1 hander ).

mat4 Says:

OK. I know I will start a disagreeable polemic, but what the heck…

When you compare Federer 2011/12 with Federer 2009, you can see that he has improved his backhand, his volley, that he can generate more angle with his forehand. Although he got older, he improved his game with purpose.

Ditto for Djokovic. I don’t know if he will make it, but I think he tries to play like a Federer with a twohander.

Since he can use his BH almost like a FH, he can be more patient and he can open the court in a different manner, but the patterns look very similar, taken from a schoolbook.

The point is that both of them, although they are exceptional players from the baseline, great in defence and even better at countering, decided to evolve, to aggressive attacking players.

And I think that this is the consequence of the slowing down of surfaces: the serve and volley has died, but since you can’t through players any more, you have to go forward and finish points at the net very often, or you won’t finish them at all.

What’s your opinion?

Margot Says:

MMT, I’ve seen a lot of two handers switch to one handers, depending on the shot, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fed play a two hander. Is this a mis-perception on my part?
Really glad to see you posting, btw :)

Tennislover Says:

Thanks guys for the technical insight into the single and double-handed backhands. It is always nice to get a perspective from people who have played at a decent level.

MMT – I have always been a bit puzzled by the ability of the likes of Blake and Nico on the bh side against Raf. I somehow attributed that to a more aggressive go-for-broke attitude and generally more “muscle power” as it were. I have had reservations about Fed’s court positioning and not only on the bh side but also for ROS. I also wonder if Fed has the upper body strength to consistently generate as much power even if he goes a bit behind especially on high-bouncing surfaces and hits a technically superior shot. Sure, he could when he gets his timing perfect but I don’t know if his tiny-margin-for-error game will allow him to be consistently aggressive. If he is not, he opens too much court on the fh side and players who cover the court well will take advantage. He runs a bit of a risk even now when he tries to run around the bh but I guess he is more confident about the damage he can do with the off or inside-in fh.

Dave Says:

Alison: Thanks much. The greatest champions in sports and business and life tend to succeed against the odds (not always, but more often than others do). Even when success is out of their hands, when the going gets tough the tough get going. instead of just giving up in a tough situation. Of course the odds are against Federer, but it remains possible. However the reason I think most people prematurely presume it’s impossible is because most people do not have a champion’s mindset or winner’s mindset — those with a loser’s mindset presume they have lost without trying whenever the odds are against them.

Gosh you’ve gpt a better memory than I do. I forgot that, at 2011 WTF, Djokovic’s only match win came against Berdych in a deciding set tie-breaker. Then Djokovic was creamed 3-6, 1-6 by David Ferrer (who had previously straight-setted Djokovic at 2007 WTF/TMC) and then lost to Tipsarevic. As you said, Djokovoc could have lost all three matches in 2011. At 2009 and 2010 WTF, Djokovic was far from convincing. So you’re right to say that Djokovic has been vulnerable at WTF in the past. As you said, it doesn’t mean that Djokovic can’t win WTF but it’s not a done deal presumed by people influenced by Djokoic’s recent wins.

Sienna Says:

Fed is playing himself nicely into shape for the last stretch of the season.

He needs to win ém all I feel to have a shot at finishing the year on top.
Winning WTF would definetely make him the most succesfull player of the year. But same goes for Murray or Djoker i gues.
Djoker is hampered because of the lack of showing at Wimbly and Olympics. But Djoker has morepoints at the momen because he reached further in other tourney.

It is a matter of taste which you find more important. Winning the tournements or going deep.

I think in a year you look for how many awards are won and secondly to the ranking points. On a longer stretch like a few years the finals and semies reached kick in to become important.

Wow Nadal not playing AU Open as I read on some sites is truly amazing. There is something going on in that boy s head. I hope he figures out his mental deamons or he straithens up his personal life in order to try and come back.

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