Defending a title four consecutive times is a tough ask for anyone. Yet, knowing that world number one Roger Federer has done it multiple times, it’s almost expected. However today at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel, Federer had three elements to grapple with. The yearning not to disappoint his hometown crowd, his foe Novak Djokovic to keep in check and a forehand in absentia. Federer fell short as Djokovic defeated him 6-4,4-6,6-2 to capture the trophy.
With both men hitting their serve well, the first eight games took only 22 minutes. Djokovic in particular had an easy time, surrendering only two points which were double faults. Conversely, Federer was especially poor from the forehand wing. In the ninth game, Roger paid dearly as two forehand errors and a double fault gave Djokovic double break point. When Federer committed another of his numerous forehand errors, Djokovic went ahead 5-4. As Djokovic served for the set, he was afflicted with forehand woes himself. In a game lasting as long as the rest of the set with 11 deuces, Djokovic fought off five break points. When Roger’s forehand crosscourt sailed long, Djokovic had his seventh set point and cashed in when Federer committed a forehand mistake.
In many ways, this match echoed of Miami when Federer flubbed so many forehands that he let out his frustration by breaking his racket. There was no racket requiring resuscitation though today. After dropping the opening game and Djokovic consolidated to take a 2-0 lead. Federer finally got on the board despite a difficult hold. Then, when Novak’s backhand down the line landed long, Roger had his seventh break chance. Federer claimed the game with a forehand dropshot winner which also grazed the net for 2 all. Despite not playing at the highest level, Federer was able to call on his serve to keep him the match. With Djokovic serving at 4-5, after a double fault gave Federer double break point, Djokovic netted a forehand allowing Federer to secure the second set.
Nevertheless, Federer’s momentum was fleeting. With errors leaking from both wings, Djokovic broke Federer in the opening game of the decisive set. Subsequent to Djokovic readily consolidating, Federer lost the opportunity to hold at 40-30 when he splayed a forehand. Later, with a backhand overhead winner, Djokovic had his third break chance of the game, he banked it when Federer made another miscue. After stretching his lead to 4-1, Djokovic had resistance from Federer. Roger worked his way to 0-40. However, with a few good serves and misfired strokes from Federer, Djokovic marched on to 5-1. Although Federer forced Djokovic to serve for the championship, Novak had no trouble. As a result, Djokovic went on to secure his fourth title of the season and his third ATP 500 trophy.