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Federer hopes for a win on home ground

Roger Federer is hoping for a successful return to the Swiss Indoors tournament

(Keystone)

World number one Roger Federer is seeking to win his very first Swiss Indoors tennis tournament which started on Saturday in his hometown Basel.

But Federer faces stiff competition - the Swiss Indoors, the third largest indoor tournament on the ATP tour with SFr1.5 million ($1.2 million) in prize money, attracts many top-class players.

The 25-year-old, who claimed his tenth Grand Slam crown - the Madrid Masters - on Sunday, continues to notch up record upon record.

But two tournaments, which are very precious to him, remain beyond his grasp: the French Open and the Swiss Indoors.

The Paris-based Roland Garros competition, which Federer lost this year to Rafael Nadal from Spain, is the only one of the grand-slam titles to have eluded him.

Meanwhile, Federer's connection to Swiss Indoors goes back a long way: the world number one used to work there as a ball boy. Despite reaching the finals in 2000 and 2001, he has never won the Basel tournament and injuries forced him out of the last two tournaments.

Tough

"We've been hoping to see Federer win here in Basel for a number of years now," said Roger Brennwald, the director and founder of the tournament. "Hopefully this is the year."

But Brennwald acknowledged that the world number one would have his work cut out, as a number of excellent players will also be competing for the trophy.

However, Federer will not playing against his main rival, Nadal - the Spaniard has decided not to attend the tournament after crashing out of the Madrid Masters - but should meet Nalbandian, who is ranked fourth in the world.

Last year's winner Fernando Gonzalez from Chile - seeded 11th - will also be in Basel, alongside Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic and rising stars Andy Murray from Scotland, Benjamin Becker from Germany and the Swiss number two Stanislas Wawrinka.

As the high number of top players suggests, Swiss Indoors seems to have been relatively unaffected by the two other tournaments being held at the same time in Lyon and St Petersburg.

"Our reputation and tradition helps," said Brennwald. "We meet our commitments and there is always room for up-and-coming stars."

Swiss Indoors, which was in danger of losing its place in the ATP calendar last year, has managed to cement its reputation among world tennis decision-makers.

No changes are planned for the Basel tournament for the next three years.

swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux

Key facts

The 37th Swiss Indoors takes place from October 21-29 at the St Jakobshalle in Basel.
It is the biggest Swiss sporting event with a budget of SFr12 million and prize money of SFr1.5 million, and the third biggest indoor tournament on the ATP tour.
Last year a record number of spectators - 66,000 - watched the matches in Basel.

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In brief

In the past such tennis legends as Björn Borg (1977), Guillermo Vilas (1978), Yvan Lendl (1980 and 1981), Yannick Noah (1982 and 1987), Stefan Edberg (1985, 1986, 1987), Jim Courier (1989), John McEnroe (1990), Boris Becker (1992) and Pete Sampras (1996) have all made their mark at Basel.

Roger Federer has twice lost in the final - to Thomas Enqvist from Sweden (2000) and Tim Henman from Britain (2001).

Since the tournament was established in 1970, two Swiss players have won the tournament – Michel Burgener (1972) and Jakob Hlasek (1991).

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