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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, October 27, 2017

Roger Federer

Roger Federer hit 12 aces fighting past Adrian Mannarino, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, continuing his quest for an eighth Basel title in his hometown tournament.

Photo credit: Swiss Indoors Basel Facebook

Roger Federer had been a gracious—and ruthless—host winning both of his Basel matches in less than an hour this week.

Playing with buzz-kill intent, Adrian Mannarino threatened to pull the rug right out of Federer’s feet in the final set today.

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A slick backhand pick-up off the baseline denied break point and helped Federer protect his home turf.

The former Basel ball boy won four straight games rallying for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Mannarino to reach his eighth semifinal of the season at the Swiss Indoors.

Federer hit 12 aces and saved two of three break points in a sometime patchy one hour, 42 minute victory.

It was Federer’s eighth straight win as he raised his 2017 record to 47-4.

Continuing his quest for an eighth Basel title, Federer will face either third-seeded David Goffin or fifth-seeded Jack Sock in tomorrow’s semifinals.

Federer had swept all 10 prior sets he’d played vs. Mannarino, permitting just 23 games in four straight-sets victories. The 36-year-old Swiss’ last loss to a left-hander was a 2015 Shanghai Rolex Masters setback to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The left-handed Frenchman hung with Federer through much of this match and even held a pair of break points that would have given him a 4-2 lead in the decider.

Exhorting himself between points, Federer raised his emotional intensity on a day when his best tennis often eluded him and banged a few timely backhand strikes down the stretch to quiet the uprising.

Challenged to deuce in the opening game, Federer answered stinging successive aces—including a second-serve ace down the middle—to hold.

Whether it was Mannarino’s ability to take ball on the rise, his curling slider serve on the ad side, the pressure of playing at home or sitting through the three-hour Marin Cilic victory that preceded this match, Federer was searching for his return game at the outset.

A couple of mis-hits from Swiss followed by a Mannarino slice that slithered into the corner helped the Frenchman hold at love for 4-all.

Moving forward behind a slice, Mannarino bumped a forehand volley winner than flicked a forehand return winner to go up love-30 on Federer’s serve. Sailing a forehand, Federer faced triple break point—the first break points he faced all week. Finding the net, Federer capped a poor game gifting the love break.

Hooking another slider serve out wide, Mannarino deployed a surprise serve-and-volley beautifully for triple set point. Federer’s 15th error of the set ended it as Mannarino snapped a 10-set losing streak against the seven-time Basel champion.

Playing declarative first-strike tennis, Federer won 13 of 15 first-serve points and banged five aces tearing through the second set.

Breaking Mannarino for 2-0, Federer accelerated his attack playing slashing through points. A pair of return winners followed by a crackling forehand off the baseline gave Federer a second break for 4-0.

Federer slid his fifth ace to seize the second set and level the match after 55 minutes.

Blown out in the second set, Mannarino pushed back to start the third, saving two break points for an opening hold.

The world No. 28 elevated his game flying forward for a backhand volley that gave him double break point in the sixth game. Federer erased the first then flicked a low backhand down the line off the short-hop denying the second with stunning hand skills.

Buzzing a service winner down the middle, Federer escaped the bind for 3-all.

That lost opportunity cost Mannarino dearly when Federer boomed a backhand crosscourt breaking for 4-3 in the following game.

Swinging freely from that wing, Federer blasted a backhand pass crosscourt breaking for a fourth time to close in one hour, 43 minutes, raising his career record in Basel to 64-9.


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