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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

When Rafael Nadal lost to Roger Federer for the first time since..

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After claiming five ATP crowns in 2014, Roger Federer went even further the following season. Federer lifted six trophies in 2015, including a title defense in his hometown of Basel. On November 1, Federer defeated his great rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes for the seventh Basel crown and the first triumph over the Spaniard since the Australian Open 2012!

Between 2013 and 2014, Rafa dropped only one set in five encounters versus Roger. The Swiss had a perfect opportunity to avenge some of those losses in front of the home fans. Having the advantage with a roof over his head, Federer scored his fifth indoor victory over Nadal in six encounters.

Philipp Kohlschreiber and David Goffin took a set out from Roger, but the home favorite did enough to overcome four obstacles and reach the title match for the tenth time in a row! Nadal prevailed against Lukas Rosol in the first round and defeated Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet to advance into the final, seeking the first indoor hard crown ten years after Madrid 2005.

Both players served at 68%, and Roger drew more from that. He hit 33 service winners against Rafa’s 17 and outplayed the opponent in the shortest rallies to create the crucial difference. They had a similar number of groundstroke winners.

At the same time, Roger dominated at the net, keeping the points on his racquet and hitting ten volley winners to put Nadal out of his comfort zone and avoid lengthy exchanges. Federer had almost twice as many winners as Nadal.

He tamed his shots nicely to avoid too many unforced errors and properly defended his backhand wing to get broken only once. Nadal played against seven break chances and suffered three breaks, unable to follow Roger’s pace in the shortest exchanges or impose his strokes and prolong the rallies.

Rafa held at 15 in the opening game after a backhand down the line winner and created a break opportunity in game two that could have given him early momentum.

In 2015, Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster Basel final.

Roger saved it with a drive volley winner and converted the third chance in game five to move 3-2 up when his forehand barely caught the line.

Nadal had a chance to pull the break back in the next one. Still, Federer landed a forehand crosscourt winner to repel it and moved 4-2 ahead with two service winners. Serving to stay in the set at 3-5, Nadal got broken at love after Federer’s forehand winner, with the home favorite sealing the opener in 37 minutes to gain a massive boost.

Another fantastic forehand drove Federer in front at the beginning of the second set. He held with a service winner in games three and five to maintain the advantage and mount the pressure on Rafa. The Spaniard saved a break chance at 2-3 with a service winner.

They both served well until 5-5 when Roger missed an easy forehand to offer a break chance to his rival. Nadal converted it with a deep backhand attack and delivered his best hold of the match with four winners to grab the set 7-5 and force a decider.

Rafa erased a break opportunity with a backhand crosscourt winner in the fourth game. However, he could not do the same at 3-4, losing a backhand exchange and sending Roger 5-3 up. Nadal stayed in the next game with a backhand winner before Federer delivered an astonishing attack for another match point.

He converted it with an unreturned serve to celebrate the title and the first victory over Rafa in over three and a half years!

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