Federer opens hometown title bid

World No. 4 Roger Federer began his campaign for a fifth title at his hometown tournament, the Swiss Indoors Basel, with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win over Italian Potito Starace on Monday evening.

Starace held the only break point chance of the opening set, but was unable to capitalise. The third-seeded Federer won the tie-break and immediately broke his 54th-ranked opponent to start the second set. He claimed the victory after one hour and 18 minutes, improving to a 6-0 record against Starace.

Federer, who was playing his first match since representing Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs against Australia in September, notched his 50th match win of 2011 - marking the 10th straight season he's reached that mark.

"Rust showed more on the returning side, trying to see the pace of the ball or being there and anticipating maybe was just missing a bit today," said Federer. "Instead of getting me 30-all chances, I was stuck at 40/15 very often and that’s a tough place to make breaks.

"In the second set I started to feel a bit better with confidence, first set in the pocket, but I still thought Potito played a good match and made me work extremely hard today."

He will go for his 40th match win in Basel (39-7 tournament record) when he plays either Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, a recent finalist in Stockholm, or Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in the second round. Federer has reached the final the past five years at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament, only failing to win the title in 2009 when he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic, the top seed this week.

Federer Focused On Strong Finish

“I don’t even know what it takes [to regain the No. 3 position],” admitted the 30-year-old Swiss, who has finished in the Top 2 for a record eight years. “My goal is trying to win when I’m playing the next few weeks.

“The focus right now is trying to play well here in Basel. The next round is my priority, but clearly after winning here, semis in Paris with match points and winning London, I know I can do extremely well. And if I’m three or four at the end of the year, we’ll see, but if I’m going to make a move I need to win tournaments and that’s what it’s going to take.”

Federer enters the final stretch of the season more than 2,000 points behind Andy Murray at No. 3 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings. Murray has been vocal about his goal of finishing in the year-end Top 3; he backed up his intention with a trio of titles during the Asian swing to overtake Federer in the leaderboard earlier this month.

The two players are both competing in Basel and at next week’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris before concluding the season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, where Federer is the returning champion. A total of 3,000 South African Airways ATP Rankings points will be up for grabs over that stretch.

“Expectations are great everywhere I go and play, but particularly here I want to do well and that’s why I was also slightly nervous going into my first round today,” he said. “Then obviously that’s all gone after two or three games, but I thought I did well today and I’m happy to be in the second round.”

Date:01.11.2011, Source: ATP


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