Federer feels at home, bids for 10th Basel title

BASEL • Roger Federer opened his bid for a 10th ATP Swiss Indoors title by crushing German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in what was his 1,500th career match, 56 behind American great Jimmy Connors.

The hometown hero showed no signs of letting his stranglehold on Basel slip, having made the final on his past 12 visits with a 72-9 career record. He broke his 112th-ranked opponent five times while dropping serve just once in the 6-2, 6-1 rout on Monday night.

Should Federer, who last lost in the 2013 final, defend his crown successfully, it will be his 103rd ATP title, six behind Connors' all-time record of 109.

He warned the field that he had a "nice spring in my step", adding: "I thought the match was good. I was quick to the ball and it didn't take me long to get used to the conditions, that's positive.

"There is a danger in playing Peter indoors since he's already had two solid qualifying matches. He also serves great indoors, but I was able to control things."

Liverpool footballer Xherdan Shaqiri was equally enthused at watching his compatriot in commanding mood.

He told local daily Blick: "He is here at home in Basel, so he runs well and is winning. It went very fast and I am happy for him. He is not the youngest anymore and he still plays at the highest level."

Federer, who will face Radu Albot of Moldova in the second round today, also had kind words when asked about Andy Murray's first ATP title since 2017.

The Scot won the European Open on Sunday as he continued his comeback from a longstanding hip problem that led to him seemingly announcing his retirement at the Australian Open.

Federer hailed Murray's "great achievement", adding: "I was a little bit torn, since he beat (Swiss) Stan (Wawrinka) in the final, but it was a great way for him to come back. He's been playing to try and get close to his old level.

"It's nice to see Andy healthy again. I remember the locker room of the Australian Open .

"It was very confusing for him and for all of us. I'm extremely happy for him."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'Federer feels at home, bids for 10th Basel title'. Print Edition | Subscribe