Basel QF previews and picks: Federer vs. Dimitrov, Del Potro vs. Mathieu

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro remain on a collision course for the Basel title match. They are set for respective Friday quarterfinal meetings with Grigor Dimitrov and Paul-Henri Mathieu.

(8) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (3) Roger Federer

The long-awaited first meeting between Federer and Dimitrov will take place in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Friday night. It could not be coming at a better time for the understudy, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career right now while Federer is obviously struggling. Dimitrov captured his first career title last week in Stockholm and so far in Basel he has taken out both Radek Stepanek and Alexandr Dolgopolov in easy straight sets. The 22-year-old Bulgarian is 35-21 for the season and up to a career-high ranking of 22nd in the world.

Federer’s mostly dreadful 2013 campaign has left him scrambling to qualify for the World Tour Finals with a 38-13 record. Still, the sixth-ranked Swiss is in good shape for London following wins this week over Adrian Mannarino and Denis Istomin–the latter via a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision. The good news for Federer is that he has been resting since Wednesday afternoon, with Dimitrov having played two matches since then. Dimitrov may be in rare form at the moment, but he has played a ton of tennis recently and at some point it will catch up to him physically and mentally. As for his mental state, the challenge of going up against his idol will not help matters. A shot-makers delight may not last more than two sets, but the pro-Federer crowd won’t mind.

Pick: Federer in 2

(1) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (Q) Paul-Henri Mathieu

Del Potro and Mathieu will be squaring off for the second time in their careers and for the first time in more than six years. Their only previous encounter came at a 2007 event in Adelaide, where Del Potro prevailed 7-6(3), 0-6, 6-3. The Argentine’s 2013 campaign has been a stellar one despite having only one positive Grand Slam result (semifinal at Wimbledon). Del Potro is 45-13 for the season following straight-set Basel scalps of Henri Laaksonen and Marcos Baghdatis.

Mathieu has been a disaster at the ATP level this year, with a 6-18 record even after defeating Denis Kudla and Michael Llodra so far this week. The Frenchman is near the Top 100 at No. 101 thanks to Challenger success, but he has to win at least one more match in order to move up because he reached the semifinals of this tournament in 2012. Mathieu also qualified for the main draw, so he has four matches under his belt and is finally playing with confidence. Del Potro, though, has been on fire this fall and he should have way too much game for Mathieu on an indoor hard court.

Pick: Del Potro in 2 losing 6 games or fewer

41 Comments on Basel QF previews and picks: Federer vs. Dimitrov, Del Potro vs. Mathieu

  1. “As for his mental state, the challenge of going up against his rival…”

    You meant “idol”, no? 🙂

    In honour of the first Fed I vs Fed II match, this is… telling…

    • Kid Fed’s tennis right now is good enough for beating an aging Fed. Hell, if Istomin got a set, Dimi should get one , too. But mentally, he won’t be up to it, no way (and he might be tired), so I say Goat Fed in 2.
      What about your prediction about the Dog challenging the Goat tomorrow? As a suffering Dog fan, I knew, he wouldn’t make it. He had a hard time stringing together more than two wins in a row this year.

  2. in general Federer’s serve is a long way off what it was last year. Maybe he was expecting a much easier match against Istomin hence the sluggish start but it still took him till midway through the 2nd set to get the upper hand. Istomin stopped believing he could win and handed over the third set meekly but Federer was less than impressive.

    Baby Fed showed few signs of fatigue this evening and was brimming with confidence. On current form it’s more than possible he could pull off an upset unless Big Fed can raise his level significantly. How well Dimitrov will handle the pressure of a marquee match played in Federer’s own backyard is an unknown factor. However let’s not underestimate the pressure Fed himself will be under.

    I am going for an upset in 3

  3. I initially voted for Fed in 3, but now am having second thoughts. It all depends on Dimitrov’s mentality. He has to go into this match with the belief that he can beat Fed. I saw part of Fed’s match with Istomin. I agree with ed’s thoughts that if Istomin can take a set off Fed, then Dimitrov can certainly do that or better.

    Fed is going to have to be sharp from the beginning. I also agree with ed that Istomin did not have the belief that he could win and just basically gave up. That’s why I said that Dimitrov will have to go into this match believing that he can win it. He has the game, but he needs to be mentally strong.

    I would love to see Dimitrov get the upset, but there is too much on the line for Fed. I am hoping that this will be a great three set match.

    I voted for Delpo in 2, losing 6 games or fewer. He was looking really good against Baggy.

    • Agree with what you say NNY.

      It would be a catastrophic loss for Federer. Apart from being humiliated in front of his home crowd, he would be going to Paris with even more at stake.

      For that reason, I hope it doesn’t come to pass.

  4. ah, I had been waiting for this match for long ! I am picking Dimitrov in 3 …but NNY is right, the biggest factor is dimitrov’s mentality…he can choke as bad as anyone on the tour 🙂

    But he does have the belief he can beat the top guys ! let us see

    • Almagro is a bigger favorite over the No. 17 player in the world than Federer is over the No. 22 player in the world. On a fast indoor hard court. With Federer playing at home.

  5. Top guys? Yes.

    The first ever meeting with the guy he cloned his game from in his hometown? No.

    Today we will see BabyFed emulate his idol’s shankings.

    Popsicle has a better chance should both make the semis. Fed hammered Dodig 3 and 1 in IW this year (and Fed wasn’t healthy).

  6. I am watching this on espn3. So are it’s playing out like I thought. Baby Fed still has a ways to go. But I thought that there was too much on the line for Fed not to come out playing well.

  7. Steve Tignor ‏@SteveTignor 4m
    Dimitrov 0/5 on break points, Federer 2/2. Dimitrov 39% first serves, Federer closes strong, 6-3 1st set. #atp


  8. Too big for baby in the headlights but if it were to pull if off now and in the third set that would be a painful upset.

  9. Dimitrov’s letting it get away from him. He had Fed down 0-40 and didn’t get the break. Then he gets broken when serving for the second set.

    Now he has to try to take it to a tb.

  10. RT @FortyDeuceTwits: “Grigor needs Rafa to come out of hyperspace and knock Federer off his line.”

  11. RT @juanjo_sports: “The only thing that could enhance this Dimitrov experience is if he starts cramping.”

    Poor lamb…………

  12. Federer HAD to win that match and he DID by raising his level significantly.
    Ricky said in his preview , there was always the risk Dimitrov would succumb to mental and physical tiredness. Which he did.

    Chapeau to Hawkeye who was not fooled by all the hype.

      • I’m so sorry Ricky. I acknowledged your accurate prediction but forgot to praise you for it 🙁

        I agree with what you say about Popsi. It is too soon to predict greatness. However he is fast catching up with his contemporaries and has the weapons and, most importantly, the temperament to really make waves in the near future.

  13. Seem to remember a rather young Andy Murray beating Fed in his prime…… 😉 GD remains flaky. Tomic endlessly disappoints. JJ prone to injury and bad temper. Only Poppit promises.

    • deucy,

      I agree with you. We could always tell who the young guys were because they showed it from the very beginning. It may have taken Andy a while to win his first slam, but it was obvious that the talent and potential was there right from the start. He was able to get the better of Fed at a time when he was still in his prime, as you said.

      I found myself thinking about Rafa when he was a teenager. Of course, I only got to see him by watching replays of some of his early great matches. He never had any fear of Fed, at a time when no one seemed able to compete with him. Watching the young Rafa in 2004 and 2005, I realized that if I had seen him at that time I would have known immediately that he was destined for greatness.

      I also found myself thinking how disappointing these young guys are. They are not anywhere near fit enough to challenge the top players. They don’t have the mental toughness and the hunger. Watching Dimitrov I couldn’t help but be frustrated by all his talent and potential not being fully realized. I know that he is now with Roger Rasheed, so maybe a new coach will help. At one point in his match with Fed, the commies said that he was tired. Tired? After not even two sets? That is unacceptable. He must work on his fitness and also mental strength. I don’t want him to end up like Gulbis. I know he’s not a spoiled rich brat like Gulbis, but he does have all that natural talent, the great shots, the game to do something in this sport.

      Tomic is just not going anywhere in this sport. I don’t see it. JJ definitely has the game to make some noise, but that bad temper and the emotional outbursts will get the better of him if he’s not careful.

      Raonic has been the only young player who has shown some consistency and decent results. He has his limitations, but at least he’s made some real progress. Ryan Harrison is beginning to look like a lost cause and I don’t want to see that happen.

      Pospisil looks like he has finally arrived.

    • Pistol has not done anything close to what JJ and GD have done. If he beats Fed tomorrow, then we can talk.

      • Totally agree with you Ricky. The young man is impressive but he still has to show up consistently the way JJ has been doing. To me, JJ is the pick of the young guns so far.

      • So he hasn’t quite arrived yet. We will see.

        I gave my thoughts on JJ and GD. Obviously JJ has gotten everyone’s attention in the last year. I stated that he definitely has the game. It remains to be seen if he can keep his emotions and temper under control. Otherwise he could end up being another Safin. That’s who he reminds me of when I watch him.

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