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Attitudes, Not Tennis, Impress In Basel

November 8, 2010
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It wasn’t a match for the ages. In fact, it wasn’t anywhere near the kind of level we have come to expect from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The three-set final that took place on the indoor courts of Basel, a tournament Federer calls home, was filled with unforced errors and strange misses. The first set, which Federer took 6-4, actually showed promise with some cracking rallies by two determined-looking men. Yet the level dropped severely after that, with Federer the worse player in the second set, and Djokovic playing some of his poorest tennis in the third. All up, in could have been a forgettable match was it not for Federer and Djokovic’s reactions immediately after.

It’s possible Federer was nervous in the third set, given those two easy balls he missed in the opening game, but it was never really a plausible thought until he won. There had been hints of an emotional Federer throughout the match, a few more fist-pumps and come-ons than usual, but it wasn’t until he converted his first match-point that the emotion came over his face. It was a reaction that could have been mistaken for a Grand-Slam win. He yelled, bent his knees, and screwed up his face as if on the verge of tears. Sitting down after the handshake, the emotion was obvious. He lost this title a year ago to the same opponent; it meant the world to him getting it back.

Not that Djokovic consigned himself to moodiness in his defeat. After a warm embrace at the net, Djokovic proceeded to conduct a mini-interview with Federer at the trophy presentation, drawing huge laughs. The Serb has had a fantastic second-half of the season, with a huge win over Federer at the US Open and a title in Beijing. The end isn’t in sight for Djokovic; he still has the Paris Masters, World Tour Finals, and a highly anticipated Davis Cup final to focus on.

Following the presentation, Federer continued his tradition of sharing pizza with the ball boys. The Swiss was once was a ball-boy there himself. He’s never forgotten the experience and always makes an effort with the ball kids whenever he wins the tournament.

The Basel final may not have been the high-quality tennis we were all hoping for, but with their post-match antics, Federer and Djokovic ensured it was still worth watching.

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