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Federer falls at final hurdle

Federer played catch up with Enqvist during the whole match

(Keystone)

Roger Federer's dream of winning his first ever ATP tour title in front of his home town crowd came to an end on Sunday as he lost the final of the Basel Swiss Indoors tournament to Sweden's Thomas Enqvist.

In a marathon match, the 19-year-old Swiss number one fought with flair and maturity but was ultimately unable to find a way past the world number six.

Enqvist took an early grip on the first set, breaking Federer in his first service game. The Swiss number one then wrested four break points off the Swede but was unable to win any of them.

A marathon struggle ensued in the eighth game, with Federer serving to stay in the set. After seven deuces and five break points, Enqvist finally won through to take the opening set 6-2.

Federer responded immediately though, breaking his opponent in the first game of the new set. Rediscovering the quality of service that has helped him so much this week, Federer dropped just four points in his next five service games to secure the second set 6-4.

The third set was the tightest yet with both players giving little away on their serve. At last, in what seemed like a decisive moment, Federer broke Enqvist to take a 6-5 lead. But as Federer served for the lead, the Swede earned his first break point of the set, which he promptly won with a powerful shot down the line.

The tie-break that followed soon swung against Federer. Losing his first service point, the Swiss player did well to pull level, but was beaten on serve twice more to lose the set 7-6 (7-4).

No one who had witnessed Federer's titanic victory against Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals would have written the Swiss player off at that point, though, and sure enough another fightback was soon underway.

The break that began it owed more to sloppiness, or perhaps exhaustion, on the part of Enqvist who twice underhit routine shots into the net to gift Federer a 2-0 lead.

There was nothing charitable about the next break though. With Enqvist serving at 4-1 down, Federer produced a dazzling array of shots, forcing four break points off the Swede, the last of which the Swiss player won with a well-timed run to the net.

Comfortably holding serve to take the fourth set 6-1, Federer seemed to have come into his game at just the right moment. But in the fifth and final set it all fell apart.

As in the opening set, Federer lost on his first service game. This time though he had little time to recover, and his opponent knew it. Enqvist, who had played solidly throughout the match, upped a gear in the closing stages to break Federer once again.

The Swede now led 5-1 and Federer was suddenly helpless. Enqvist took the final game to love to complete a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, 1-6, 6-1 victory.

by Mark Ledsom







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