Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal brought their long rivalry to Switzerland for the first time in the 2015 Basel final.
Having reached the final of both Wimbledon and the US Open during the Grand Slam season, Roger Federer’s 2015 campaign was running fairly smooth going into the fall. After a couple of wins during the third week of Davis Cup, however, he was shocked in his opening match at the Shanghai Masters by Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Bouncing back from that, he advanced to the final in his next tournament, the Swiss Indoors, where the native son was a six-time victor. In the championship match, he’d face his biggest foil, Rafael Nadal. Seeded third, the Spaniard, whose year had not lived up to his expectations, had been playing better of late and had battled through three-setters in three of his four matches to reach his second final in a few weeks’ time.
Facing each other for the first time in more than a year, Federer was out to turn the tide on recent history: The Swiss entered this final on a five-match losing skid against the Spaniard, only winning one set over those contests. Nadal threatened to break Federer’s serve in the first game, but the world No. 3 held on and then soon got a break of his own to go up 3-2. He would eventually go on to take the opener 6-3.
In the second set, Federer had an early opportunity to get a quick lead, but Nadal fended him off. Stepping up his own level of aggression, the world No. 7 stayed close with Federer on the fast indoor court, then got his first break of the match to take a 6-5 lead. A love hold in the next game gave Nadal the set to send the match into a decider.
The two stayed mostly on even ground in the third set until the eighth game, when Federer broke to take a 5-3 lead. Having served tremendously well all match, notching 12 aces, Federer struck one more big delivery on match point, drawing a return error from Nadal to clinch the title and his first victory over his chief rival in nearly three years.
In their long rivalry, this was only the third time they faced each other in the final of one of their home countries. The two split championship matches in Madrid, Spain, in 2009 and 2010.
This was Federer’s fourth successful title defense of the year, with the Shanghai Masters the only tournament he didn’t repeat at from 2014.
Federer’s seventh Basel victory was the fifth tournament where he won that many titles after accomplishing the feat at Wimbledon, Halle, Cincinnati and Dubai.
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