Basel SF previews and picks: Nadal vs. Gasquet, Federer vs. Sock

Rafa 5Rafael Nadal has survived a trio of three-setters and will face Richard Gasquet in the Basel semifinals on Saturday. Another intriguing semifinal showdown pits Roger Federer against an in-form Jack Sock.

(3) Rafael Nadal vs. (5) Richard Gasquet

Nadal and Gasquet will be going head-to-head for the 14th time in their careers at the ATP level when they collide in the semifinals of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Saturday. All 13 of their previous encounters have gone Nadal’s way, including five on hard courts (two indoors). The Spaniard has won 21 consecutive sets at Gasquet’s expense dating back to the 2008 Canada Masters. Gasquet actually once got the best of his nemesis, but that came via retirement after the opening set at an indoor Challenger event in France back in 2003.

The Frenchman is unlikely to benefit from that kind of luck this time around because Nadal appears to be heating up as the season comes to a close. The world No. 7 reached the Beijing final and the Shanghai semis, and so far this week he has survived Lukas Rosol, Grigor Dimitrov, and Marin Cilic all in three sets.  Gasquet escaped a thriller of his own on Friday, when he saved one match point to scrape past Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(6). The fifth seed preceded that victory by taking out Jiri Vesely in three sets and Dominic Thiem in straights. Gasquet is an awesome 41-15 for the year and appears to be on his way to London as an alternate. This matchup, however, is quite clearly a disaster for him. He is unable to hit his opponent off the court with Nadal’s heavy forehand consistently getting the best of his one-handed backhand. Count on more of the same continuing, although this one should at least be competitive.

Pick: Nadal in 2

(1) Roger Federer vs. Jack Sock

Federer and Sock will be squaring off for the second time in their careers and for the third time this season on Saturday. Their only previous meeting came in Indian Wells, where Federer coasted 6-3, 6-2. This is not exactly the setting Sock would choose in order to exact some revenge. After all, Federer is a six-time champion of this tournament, has been to nine consecutive finals, and boasts a 59-9 lifetime record. So far this week the 34-year-old Swiss has defeated Mikhail Kukushkin, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and David Goffin–surrendering sets to Kohlschreiber and Goffin in the process.

A red-hot Sock finished runner-up in Stockholm six days ago and he has not looked back. The 29th-ranked American rolled over Denis Kudla and John Isner before beating yet another countryman, Donald Young, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday. Sock is 35-16 for his 2015 campaign and he all but clinched a seed for the upcoming Australian Open. The underdog will be able to pepper Federer’s backhand with his own forehand that has been calculated at more revolutions per minute than that of Nadal. But Sock has played a ton of recent tennis and either fatigue or simply an overall dip in form showed up against Young. Unless Sock picks it back up and Federer plays like he did in set two against Goffin, this should be mostly straightforward.

Pick: Federer in 2

28 Comments on Basel SF previews and picks: Nadal vs. Gasquet, Federer vs. Sock

  1. Rafa has only lost one set in the last 12 vs Roger winning the last five matches. Roger hasn’t beaten Rafa in 3.5 years,

    It’s been almost two years since they played.

    Fed in 2.

    • Is that your logic?! I really cant judge Roger’s game at the mo, he has had two 3 setters and his opponents I cant even remember their names. Between him and Rafa right now, I really cant say who is better. Just hoping for a great match…but one thing I know, whenever Rafa sees Fed on the other side of the net, he gets inspired…..i mean really, really inspired!!! Cant wait….vamos Rafa!!!

  2. As usual Rafa will find a way to win. Fed was shanking all over the place and its Sock who was really bad to lose in straight sets. I doubt Rafa would be as clueless as Kukushin or Sock. If Kohl or Goffin could each win a set, Rafa should do better than them having beaten some quality opponents to arrive at the final.

    Btw, what happened to Fed? After the USO, he seems to be shanking so badly these days.

  3. I think that’s it with Fed. He’s all about adding another slam to his total and preserving his record.

    I do think that Sock did not play anywhere near his best. But still, Fed’s looked a bit shaky this week.

    I also agree that if the likes of Kohls and Goffin can get a set off Fed, then Rafa can certainly do better.

    Rafa has been mentally strong all week. I can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t continue to be so in the final.

  4. Rafa’s post-match interview with the ATP Staff:

    “I think it was a beautiful one to watch.” says Rafa about his SF match with Gasquet.

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