October 27, 2019
Roger Federer was in tears after he won his tenth Swiss Indoors title in Basel with a startling display against Alex De Minaur.
He raised his arms in the air after clinching glory 6-2, 6-2. You could see the immense satisfaction written all over his face.
Then he said: ‘What a moment. To win my tenth title here in my home town of Basel.
‘It was fast but very nice. I think I played a great match. It was tough for the first five games but then I never looked back.
‘I couldn’t be happier and I still feel fresh. I am about to lift the trophy and it’s going to feel fantastic.’
His lingering kiss for that golden prize confirmed it. They gave him another trophy for good measure. To mark his tenth triumph here.
The ovation during his victory speech in Swiss German brought tears to his eyes and he seemed overwhelmed.
Over in Vienna it was Dominic Thiem who took his home title with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman.
But with all due respect to the brilliant Thiem, this was Federer’s historic day above all.
In truth the contest in Basel was never in doubt after some tense opening exchanges.
The occasion demanded a Federer victory. He duly obliged with total focus and ruthless conviction.
Of course, Federer has had some practice at playing finals the right way. This was his 157th showpiece at ATP tour level.
A frightening thought and a measure of Roger’s imperious reign over the last twenty years or so.
The masterful Swiss hasn’t had it all his own way in that time. Not even this year.
A super-dramatic Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic showed he is human. He is beatable.
Of those 157 finals, Federer has only won 103. Only!
What an extraordinary achievement for a man who is now 38 and still adding to his amazing collection.
Once he was a ball boy at this event. He watched and wondered whether he could make the grade in the sport one day.
Now he dishes out the tennis lessons to the latest ball kids with nonchalant precision.
The young Australian could only soak it up and learn for the future. De Minaur had his moments of impudent strokeplay. He will improve with experience.
He said: ‘It was a dream come true to play Roger in Basel and I don’t think it gets any better than that.’
But Roger was a man on a mission in front of his home crowd. He kept De Minaur in check with some beautifully clean hitting.
Even after he lost a 39-shot rally, he was able to take control of the very next point to earn a break and go 3-1 ahead in the first.
And he broke again to take the opening set with ease. The anxious De Minaur snatched at some of his shots and lost composure at key moments.
You could hardly blame him for fading against a living legend.
Yet the Federer serve wasn’t all it usually is. He struggled to get it right first time in set one.
He only dominated so emphatically by compensating in other areas.
Some players would allow doubts to creep in if a cornerstone of their game was showing signs of malfunction.
Not Roger Federer. He forgives himself and he finds another way.
He was beautifully relaxed on his forehand and backhand. He approached the net like a long-lost friend, knowing he would thrive there.
He conjured unplayable drop shots, he passed the youngster with breathtaking ease.
In the blink of an eye, Federer was 3-0 ahead in the second set. The serve was back firing nicely.
When De Minaur tried to find a foothold, Federer came up with magical replies. Backhand passes from the tennis gods. Constant reminders of who was boss.
And before we knew it, this celebration of Federer’s greatness was over.
Until the next time.