Roger Federer begins his bid for a record 10th Swiss Indoors title in Basel on Monday night when he takes on German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the opening round.
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On a 20-match winning streak in Basel, will Roger Federer secure an unprecedented 10th Swiss Indoors title this week? The 20-time major champion starts his campaign on Monday night against qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.
Federer, who used to ballboy in Basel before embarking on his legendary career, holds a 71-9 record in Basel, winning nine titles and last suffering a loss at the tournament in the 2013 final against Juan Martin del Potro. Federer made his Basel debut in 1998 as he lost in the opening round to Andre Agassi and reached his first final in 2000, falling to Thomas Enqvist. Federer would go on to lose in the final the following year to Tim Henman and bowed out in the 2002 semi-finals to David Nalbandian and 2003 second round to current coach Ivan Ljubicic, but after missing the 2004 and 2005 editions, he’s won the Swiss Indoors title on nine occasions and finished runner-up on a further three occasions.
With three more top 10 players in the draw this week – including Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut – along with fellow Swiss star Stan Wawrinka and former Basel champion Marin Cilic, Federer will need to be playing well in order to secure a 10th Swiss Indoors title, especially when you factor in the only top 10 player he’s needed to beat in his last two Basel triumphs was David Goffin two years ago.
It’s been yet another great season for Federer, with the 38-year-old continuing to defy his age by remaining in the world’s top three, winning three titles – including breaking the 100-title barrier – in Dubai, Miami and Halle and also finishing runner-up at Wimbledon and Indian Wells. It’s extraordinary that Federer can compile those sorts of results at this stage of his career, but at the same time, he’s still playing in order to win more slams, so he will be disappointed he wasn’t able to add to his tally in 2019, especially after missing out on two championship points against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.
Federer hasn’t had the best of times since that crushing defeat, losing in the Round of 16 in Cincinnati to Andrey Rublev in straight sets, while a back injury hampered him in a five-set quarter-final loss to Grigor Dimitrov at the U.S. Open. The Swiss returned to help Team Europe win the Laver Cup, but he wasn’t able to find his best tennis in a return to competitive action at the Shanghai Masters, battling to wins over Albert Ramos-Vinolas and David Goffin before going down to Zverev at the quarter-final stage. Perhaps a return to Basel this week will see Federer recapture his best tennis?
Peter Gojowczyk is the man who stands in his way in the first round. The German had been in woeful form heading into qualifying in Basel, losing his last eight matches dating back to the Citi Open in August, where he also lost in qualifying but gained entry into the main draw as a lucky loser, making it all the way to the semi-finals before going down to Daniil Medvedev. Gojowczyk hadn’t won a match since, but something’s clicked in Basel, with the 30-year-old beating Ivo Karlovic and Casper Ruud in straight sets to reach the main draw and earn a shot at Federer on Monday night.
Gojowczyk won his one and only ATP title to date at the Moselle Open in Metz in 2017 and backed that up with a career-best season in 2018, rising to a peak ranking of No. 39 after runner-up finishes in Delray Beach and Geneva. However, consistency has always been an issue for the German, with Gojowczyk going on five and six-match losing streaks during his best season on tour last year. The 30-year-old has struggled to find his best tennis in 2019, winning just 10 tour-level matches for the year – with four of those coming during his aforementioned run to the Washington semi-finals as a lucky loser.
Down to No. 111 in the world as a result, Gojowczyk has nothing to lose when he takes to court against Federer on Monday night. The pair have played twice before, with Federer winning both matches in straight sets, including earlier this year at Indian Wells. It would be a massive surprise if Gojowczyk was able to push Federer in Basel after the run of tour-level defeats he’s had, so expect a comfortable first round for the nine-time Swiss Indoors champion.