Benoit Paire is next up for Roger Federer on Thursday as the 36-year-old Swiss aims for an eighth title in Basel. Second-round action is also wrapping up with a showdown between Adrian Mannarino and Denis Shapovalov.
(1) Roger Federer vs. Benoit Paire
Federer and Paire will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in the Swiss Indoors Basel second round on Wednesday. All four of their previous encounters have gone the way of Federer, who is a perfect 9-0 in total sets at Paire’s expense. The Swiss has issued two breadsticks, a trio of 6-2 performances, and only one set has been more competitive than 6-4 (a tiebreaker during semifinal action at the 2013 Rome Masters). Their most recent meeting came early this season in Dubai, where Federer cruised 6-1, 6-3.
Thanks to mostly clean health, smart scheduling, and simply phenomenal tennis, the 36-year-old is 45-4 in 2017 with six titles–including two of the Grand Slam variety. He kicked off his bid for an eighth Basel title by hammering Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday. Paire punched his ticket to the last 16 by beating Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6(4). The Frenchman is a mediocre 31-29 this season and appears to be missing out on 2018 Australian Open seeding at No. 40 in the rankings. Paire has rarely been competitive with Federer and there is no reason to think anything will be different on Federer’s Swiss stomping grounds.
Pick: Federer in 2 losing 5-7 games
Denis Shapovalov vs. (7) Adrian Mannarino
Mannarino and Shapovalov will be squaring off for the second time in their careers on Thursday. Their only previous contest came this summer on the hard courts of Montreal, where Shapovalov delivered in front of the home Canadian crowd to the tune of a surprising semifinal showing. Mannarino was the last man he beat, scoring a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal victory before finally succumbing to Alexander Zverev. With momentum in hand, the 18-year-old made a run to the U.S. Open fourth round as a qualifier. Somewhat understandably, Shapovalov cooled off at the beginning of the fall swing with first-round exits in Shanghai (Viktor Troicki) and Antwerp (Ernesto Escobedo). The world No. 49 avoided that same fate in Basel by battling past Yuichi Sugita 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(3) on Monday.
Mannarino is also in the midst of his best season on tour. The Frenchman owns a 31-25 record at the ATP level and currently registers one spot off his career-high ranking at No. 28. He reached the third and fourth finals of his career in Antalya and Tokyo before making a semifinal appearance last week in Moscow. Mannarino maintained his fine form on Wednesday with a 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-1 defeat of Ruben Bemelmans. This is a good opportunity for the confident seventh seed, as Shapovalov is no longer playing the best tennis of life and does not have home-court advantage this time around.
Pick: Mannarino in 2