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


  1. rafaisthebest says:

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

  2. rafaisthebest says:

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

    Poor lamb…………

  3. Is fed an old wolf in goat’s clothing?

  4. 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.

    • Ricky Dimon says:

      :hatoff: to me

      • 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.

      • Ricky Dimon says:

        ^^^ agreed with the weapons and temperament comment

  5. Didn’t see the match was travelling to Bahrain. Will definitely watch the catch-up on Tennis-tv.

  6. 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.

    • Ricky Dimon says:

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

      • rafaisthebest says:

        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.

  7. Ricky Dimon says:

    check non-tennis forum for a site update –

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