Roger Federer on Sunday moved to within six titles of Jimmy Connors’ Open era record of 109 singles titles with a 6-2, 6-2 win over 20-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur at the Swiss Indoors at Basel.
Federer broke in the fourth game of the opening set to take a 3-1 lead against de Minaur, who was born a year after his opponent turned professional. Serving at 2-5, unforced errors on nervy points by de Minaur gave Federer two set points and ultimately the first set in under 35 minutes.
Federer broke early in the second set to go up 2-0. Serving at 4-2, the net cord played a crucial role in winning the Swiss the game: At 30-all, a de Minaur volley bounced back onto his own side after clipping the net; a looping ball after a net cord for Federer allowed de Minaur to level at 40-40; finally, a net cord on a de Minaur backhand sent the ball wide to give Federer the game. An easy break of serve – his fourth of the match – then gave Federer the win at his home tournament, where he was a ball boy in his youth.
Federer moved into third place in the year-end race for the ATP Tour Finals ahead of Daniil Medvedev, the 22-year-old Russian who’s been the revelation of the season, reaching six consecutive finals, including at the US Open, and nine overall.
Federer, 38, continued to defy his age as he went level with Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Djokovic and Medvedev with four titles in the 2019 season, with only the Paris Masters and the ATP Tour Finals the only major tournaments left in the year. De Minaur too was seeking a fourth title of the year – and fourth of his career – at Basel. (As of this writing, Thiem was seeking a fifth title of the year, playing the Vienna Open final against Diego Schwartzman.)
The win marked a 10th title at Basel for Federer, who lost in the Wimbledon final to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic after holding a match point in the fifth set. The Swiss master had set another record on Saturday by becoming the first professional tennis player – male or female – to reach the final of a single event 15 times, breaking his tie with Martina Navratilova, who’d reach 14 finals at Chicago and the WTA Tour finals.
On Monday, Federer played his 1,500th match on the ATP tour in the round of 32 against Peter Gojowczyk, and the ageless Swiss world No. 3 is seemingly set to overtake Connors’ record of 1,556 matches played. Also, Federer, with 1,233 wins, is closing in on Connors’ mark of 1,274.
To put that into perspective: Federer is 51-8 for 2019 up to the Basel win, leaving him 53 matches and 40 wins behind Connors overall.
Edit: Thiem beat Schwartzman 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for his fifth title of the year, moving him ahead of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Medvedev.