Former World No 1 is just one win away from a fifth home title at the Swiss Indoors in Basel
Roger Federer stands one win away from a fifth home title at the Swiss Indoors after winning his tenth match against good friend and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Saturday. "It's always tough to play Stan," said Federer, 10-1 against his Beijing Olympic gold medal doubles partner with four victories in 2011 alone.
Switzerland's Roger Federer returns to compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka during Saturday's Swiss Indoors ATP semi-final in Basel. Federer won 7-6 (7/5), 6-2. PIC/AFP
"It's never easy. We know each other's game so well." The 16-time Grand Slam champion and holder will face Japanese surprise packet Kei Nishikori, who pounced upon an injured world number one Novak Djokovic in a 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 semi-final upset.
Federer is searching for his first trophy since the first week of the year when he won Doha. While he's played semi-finals at the Australian and US Opens, it's been an off-year for the one-time tennis dominator. Nishikori, ranked 32nd and now a winner over three Top 10 players in a month, owns one career title at age 21, which he claimed three years ago in Delray Beach.
Djokovic, who has had a charmed run for most of 2011 with ten titles, lost only his fourth match of a season which could now turn into an injury nightmare. The Serb revealed that he had been playing all week with a sore shoulder similar to the injury which forced him to quit the Cincinnati final in August against Andy Murray before the US Open.
"I could barely serve for much of the match, I was in pain," said the player who only returned this week after six weeks out with a back injury. "My shoulder is very bad, we won't even talk about the third set. I have a lot of pain in my body from the competition this week. I hope I can be ready for Paris."
That Masters event starts on Monday, with Djokovic now in serious doubt of fronting up. He said he is likely to travel to the city and hope for the best. "I don't think I'll be able to train for the next few days." Djokovic said that his gruelling first-round win over Xavier Malisse on Tuesday could have set the tone for the rest of the week.
"It was a shock to the body," he said of the opening struggle. "Competition is different to practise. "I may have forced things too much I was feeling afraid of the shoulder and what might happen to it. My rhythm on my serve has been completely off."
Nishikori needed a set to overcome his jitters against Djokovic, but showed his potential as he levelled at one apiece after a 71-minute marathon with seven unforced errors while Djokovic's errors mounted to a massive 18 in the set.
It was all Nishikori in the third set. "I played well from the second set," said the Japanese winner, "I got my rhythm and hit some unbelievable shots. "After Shanghai (where he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) I've felt different with my game.
I'm playing differently, more solid from the baseline and not making any stupid errors." Federer trained once with Nishikori five years ago in Miami and could see that the teenager had potential. "He's been playing well in recent weeks and really rising in the rankings. It will be a tough match, but I go in with the experience."