Basel Flashback: Juan Martin Del Potro Edges Roger Federer

Juan Martin del Potro edges Roger Federer


After suffering an early loss to Ivan Ljubicic in 2003, Roger Federer stayed away from his hometown ATP event in Basel until 2006. Roger would go on to reach six straight finals in front of the home crowd in 2011, lifting five trophies and suffering one loss. against Novak Djokovic in the 2009 title clash.

In search of the sixth Basel title in 2012, Federer had to work hard in the second round against Thomaz Belluci. He prevailed in three tight sets and leveled himself against Benoit Paire and Paul-Henri Mathieu to advance to the Basel final ninth.

After four wins over rivals ranked outside the top 30, Roger faced the first highly ranked opponent at no. 8, Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine defeated the local 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 meetings, the first since the 2009 ATP Finals. In their previous match, Federer prevailed 19-17 in the third set of the semifinal at the Wimbledon Olympics.

The Argentine took his revenge in the Swiss hometown and joined Basel’s list of standout champions. Federer fired 18 aces and faced just two break points. He lost serve once in the first set and did everything right in his service games in sets two and three.

Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in the 2012 Basel final.

On the other hand, del Potro fended off all five break point opportunities and prevailed in crucial moments to cross the finish line first and celebrate the title.

Juan Martin had nearly 40 game winners and just over 20 unforced errors. At the same time, Federer shot 44 game winners and 40 errors, unable to tame his shots more efficiently and defend the crown. Nothing could separate them in the shorter and middle rallies, with del Potro building the crucial lead in the longer rallies to lift the trophy.

Del Potro won the battle of backhands in the fifth game of the opener to score a break in the 15th and moved into a 4-2 lead after another backhand error from the Swiss. Serving for the set at 5-4, the Argentine held at 30 thanks to a backhand error from Roger, sealing the first set and taking a huge 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. He created his chance at 5-5 which Roger denied with a forehand crosscourt winner to stay alive. The home favorite won the tie break 7-5 to take the set and gain a huge boost before the decider, led by the partisan crowd.

Roger squandered three break point opportunities at 1-1 in the final set before Juan Martin closed out the game with an ace in one of the crucial moments of the match. The Swiss earned another break chance at 3-3, but it was not for him.

He sprayed a forehand error and allowed his rival to stay in contact until the tie break. The first mini-break came in the sixth point when Federer’s forehand found the net, and Del Potro went ahead 6-3 after a loose backhand from the defending champion.

Juan Martin sealed the deal on 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.

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