Finals previews and predictions: Federer vs. Del Potro, Tsonga vs. Pouille

Juan Martin Del Potro is one win away from temporarily putting himself in a World Tour Finals spot, but Roger Federer is standing in his way in Sunday’s Basel final. The Vienna title match is an all-French affair between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille.

(1) Roger Federer vs. (4) Juan Martin Del Potro

Federer and Del Potro will be facing each other for the 24th time in their careers and for the fourth time at this tournament when they battle for the Swiss Indoors Basel title on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 17-6 in Federer’s favor, but Del Potro is 2-1 in Basel–including 2-0 in finals. Del Potro triumphed 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3) in 2012 and 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4 in 2013, while Federer prevailed 6-1, 6-4 during second-round action back in 2007. These two veterans most recently squared off in the Shanghai semis, with the Swiss getting the job done 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Del Potro could really use another victory in this one; in fact, an upset would propel him to an improbable spot in the World Tour Finals (with next week’s Paris Masters still pending). The 19th-ranked Argentine captured the Stockholm title last week and has advanced in Basel with victories over Joao Sousa, Julien Benneteau, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Marin Cilic. Federer is aiming for his eighth title at this event following defeats of Frances Tiafoe, Benoit Paire, Adrian Mannarino (in three sets), and David Goffin. The world No. 2 is 48-4 in 2017 and should be able to outlast what has to be a fatigued opponent.

Pick: Federer in 3

(8) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Lucas Pouille

Not too much unlike Del Potro, Tsonga needs a title on Sunday to be in serious World Tour Finals contention unless he plans on making a big run in Paris. The 15th-ranked Frenchman is also coming off a title-winning performance last week (Antwerp) and has advanced at the Erste Bank Open by taking out Karen Khachanov, Damir Dzumhur, Alexander Zverev, and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Up next for Tsonga is a third career showdown against Pouille, who has lost both of their previous encounters (6-4, 6-4 last year in Monte-Carlo and by the exact same scoreline earlier this season in the Marseille final). Pouille has slumped for the most part through the second half of 2017, but he at least managed to reach round four at the U.S. Open. So far this week he has defeated Sebastian Ofner, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Richard Gasquet, and Kyle Edmund. A significant edge in current form goes to Tsonga, and Pouille played almost three and a half hours of tennis on Saturday–singles and doubles combined.

Pick: Tsonga in 2

14 Comments on Finals previews and predictions: Federer vs. Del Potro, Tsonga vs. Pouille

  1. On clay he was better than ever. Wimbledon he was amazing as well. On the HC’s post Cincinatti he was at his best. His serve was actually FASTER than ever and more varied, in fact every type of shot he played at the US Open was on average faster than in 2013

  2. Rafa was better on clay this year than in 2008/2013. Rafa was wobbly at the start of FO2013. He was getting better after beating Foggy in R4. I would say that the 2017 Rafa on clay was more aggressive, he won’t let Djoko have even a set playing so aggressively, unlike in 2013 FO. The 2013 Rafa was playing mostly from the baseline and had to fight hard to win; this 2017 Rafa was aggressive from the get go, never hesitated to move forward when the opportunities were there. He was dictating from start to finish!

  3. Rafa post 2013 USO was not a great level . He did not win a single tournament after that and even lost against Ferrer.

    Rafapost 2017 USO has been much better.

    • Agreed. Rafa though was more consistently great on HCs in 2013 despite his post USO2013 not so great tennis. In 2017 his level on the HCs was so up and down; post AO he wasn’t great; he’s also poor at Canada/Cincy but thereafter, was great again at USO, Beijing and Shanghai.

      Rafa no doubt had better results during the European clay season in 2013 ( four titles plus one final) but he had played fewer matches prior to that (18) compared to now in 2017 when he had already played 23 matches prior to the main clay season. He was running on fumes by Rome, understandable when he’s 30 almost 31 compared to 2013 when he was 26 or 27.

  4. No, he’s more aggressive than in the past. I certainly won’t call Thiem not of same level of competition on clay compared to Kei or Foggy of 2013. I would say Rafa is more aggressive, more skillful and crafty now than in 2013, a more complete player on clay, compensating for loss of speed and power as he grows older. The same could be said of Fed on grass and HCs this season.

    Of course with a peak form Djoko around, things might be different but I doubt Djoko would be beating Rafa on clay or Fed on grass this season. He would beat them on the HCs more than they would beat him imo.

      • Exactly! Can’t say that Delpo was always in tip top conditions when facing Fed, or vice versa for that matter.

        • Yep great point. Thankfully today they produced a great match. I hope Del Po can qualify for the world tour finals with a run in Paris. I just feel he may be wiped.

          • Yep, it was a great match today overall. Each guy obviously had moments of missed opportunity, but that actually made for a lot of suspense. Fed obviously made a lot of errors, but he also hit a million winners. He was just going for broke and it was awesome. He must have hit like 40 forehand winners in that match! Delpo is just so dangerous indoors. He just completely takes the racquet out of your hands. I said the same thing before Basel and he turned out fine, but it’s getting to the point where I just can’t imagine him making it far in Paris. Maybe he could make it to the semis to face Rafa, but I can’t see how he could overcome Rafa after all this tennis.

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