Roger Federer will face Rafael Nadal in a final for the first time in two and half years. The tennis greats both had straight-sets wins Saturday to set up a Swiss Indoors title match that is their first on-court meeting since January 2014, and first final since May 2013.
For extra emotion, the 34th chapter in their great rivalry is at Federer’s hometown tournament where Nadal has never faced the local hero, who was once a ball boy here.
“It’s fantastic for the fans, for the tournament … and for both of us,” said the top-seeded Federer, after easing to a 6-3, 6-4 win against unseeded American Jack Sock in the semifinals. “Today I was in control so I feel like I have a good shot tomorrow.”
Earlier, the third-seeded Nadal played his best tennis of the week in beating Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 7-6 (7).
The 29-year-old Spaniard has a 23-10 career hold over Federer, including straight-sets wins in their last title match – the Rome Masters final in May 2013 – and last competitive meeting in the Australian Open semifinals.
“It’s a long time ago, you probably forget it,” Nadal quipped to reporters. “I don’t have the ideal opponent to win again, but I won on grass (in Stuttgart) after a couple of years without winning.”
After three straight three-set matches at Basel, Nadal finally got a more straightforward win Saturday though his problem holding serve early in sets continued.
Gasquet needed seven break points to take a 1-0 lead in the second, and Nadal leveled when the fifth-seeded Frenchman served for the set leading 5-4. Federer had a smoother path, and Sock did well to stretch the match beyond one hour when Federer was two points from victory serving with a 5-2 lead.
The 29th-ranked American reeled off three straight returns for winners to break serve for the only time. Federer clinched without fuss in his next service game.