After four dominant years on the Tour, Roger Federer started to slow down a little bit in 2008, losing some important matches to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the latter stages of the tournament and lifting only four ATP titles, including the US Open.
His fourth and last crown of the year came in the hometown of Basel on October 26 when he defeated David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 10 minutes for his third straight title in Basel and the 15th win in a row. It wasn’t the perfect start for the home favorite, though, defeating Bobby Reynolds 6-3 6-7 6-3 in the first round before edging Jarkko Nieminen (they played in the final a year ago) in two tie breaks for the place in the quarters.
He started to play better there, ousting Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3 in just over an hour before another great win against Feliciano Lopez to reach the title match. There, David Nalbandian stood on the other side of the net in what had been their 18th and penultimate meeting on the Tour.
Roger scored the 10th win over a great rival for his third straight title in front of the home fans, dropping just seven points on serve and stealing Nalbandian’s serve once in each set to secure the win in straight sets.
Both players had more winners than unforced errors but Federer was more efficient, forcing more errors and taming his shots nicely to control the scoreboard all the time. The Swiss had the advantage in the shortest points and he made the biggest difference in the mid-range rallies with five to eight shots, constructing the points nicely and keeping the unforced errors under control.
Federer held in the opening game of the match with an ace, making another good hold in the third game and creating a break point in game four that David saved with a service winner. The Argentinian saved five break points in the fourth game to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard but he sent a forehand long two games later to fall 4-2 behind, allowing Roger to move 5-2 ahead with a hold at love.
The Swiss served for the opener in the ninth game and he delivered another great hold for a 6-3 after 34 minutes, playing well so far and looking to repeat the same in set number two as well. He broke in the third game of the second set after an amazing backhand cross court winner, confirming the break in the following game to move 3-1 up.
Four winners pushed Roger 4-2 ahead and they both served well in the following games, leaving the defending champion to serve for the title in game 10. David couldn’t do much on the return in this game either and Roger sealed the deal with a forehand winner, celebrating the third straight title in Basel and his fourth and last in 2008 that saw him losing the first place in the rankings for the first time since 2004.
Roger Federer’s run towards the third Basel crown:
↓ SHOW RESULTS ↓
R1 Bobby Reynolds 6-3 6-7(6) 6-3
R2 Jarkko Nieminen 7-6(6) 7-6(1)
QF Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3
SF Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-2
F David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4