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.