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Roger Federer Raises His Level In Basel, Nishikori Turns Up Heat On Race To London

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns a ball to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff during their round of sixteen match at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, 25 October 2018.  EPA-EFE/GEORGIOS KEFALAS



By Ricky Dimon


Roger Federer can probably win the Swiss Indoors Basel in his sleep. After all, he has won it eight times and has reached the final on an incredible 13 occasions–including in an unbelievable 11 consecutive trips to the tournament.


And Federer basically was sleeping in his first-round win over Filip Krajinovic, whom he scraped past 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 while requiring more than two hours of work. The 37-year-old served at a horrendous 47 percent in that contest and double-faulted six times.


Federer, however, raised his level considerably against Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday. The Swiss Maestro held the rest of his service games after trailing by an early break in the opening set and prevailed 6-3, 7-5 in just one hour and seven minutes.


“I was ready for Struff to come out and swing,” Federer noted. “I didn’t know how aggressive he was going to play or how much serve and volley he was going to do. But, unfortunately, I didn’t have the best first two service games. But he also played well, I must say. He connected well; he came out with a plan and it worked for him. In the second set it was close throughout, but I think I was able to clean up my game a little bit.


“I’m happy that I improved after a rocky, slow start today, to play well after that. I think the crowd was really into it. They were excited that I came back from being a break down (in the first set). I’m excited for the next round. I’m actually quite happy how I’m playing right now.”


At the Erste Bank Open, meanwhile, the race for what will likely be the last spot in the Nitto ATP Finals heated up with Kei Nishikori’s win over Karen Khachanov followed by John Isner’s loss to Gael Monfils. Nishikori trails Isner by just 65 points for the No. 9 spot and will take over that position if the Japanese star defeats Dominic Thiem in Friday’s quarterfinals.


The ninth spot is likely all-important because Juan Martin Del Potro is expected to withdraw from London due to a knee injury.


Nishikori clobbered Khachanov 6-2, 6-2, while Isner succumbed to Monfils 6-4, 6-4. Nishikori is now 10-3 since the U.S. Open with a recent runner-up performance in Tokyo.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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