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Federer eyes twin targets in Basel

Roger Federer is hoping for a double success at Basel Keystone

Wimbledon champion and winner of five other tournaments this season, Roger Federer is gearing up for the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel.

The Swiss tennis star will also be challenging for the number one ranking when the competition starts on Tuesday.

Federer will also be hoping that it’ll be third time lucky at the Swiss Indoors where he has lost twice in the finals, in 2000 to the Swede, Thomas Enqvist and in 2001 to the British player, Tim Henman.

Buoyed by his success at Wimbledon and his recent victory in Vienna, the Basel-born Federer is hoping for a double success at the Swiss Indoors.

If Federer does clinch the elusive title, he’ll become the first Swiss to lift the trophy for twelve years after Jakob Hlasek won the event in 1991.

He’s also hoping to gain the number one sport in the international ATP tennis rankings, in which he’s currently placed third.

One of his main rivals, the top-seeded Spaniard, Juan Carlos Ferrero, had to withdraw from the tornament due to an injury.

However, competition will still be tough as the number two, Andy Roddick from the United States, will be playing.

Great luck

Roger Brennwald, the director and founder of the tournament, is looking forward to the clash.

“It’s great luck to have the three best players in the world at the moment at Basel,” Brennwald told swissinfo.

“The fact that one of them, Roger Federer, is Swiss, from Basel and a former ball boy at the competition is really exceptional and unique in Swiss tennis history,” he added.

Apart from the top three seeds, nine other top twenty ranked players will also be appearing at the St Jakobshalle.

Biggest national sporting event

Despite being sandwiched between two Master Series tournaments in Madrid and Paris, Swiss Indoors has increased its international profile over the last few years.

Such tennis legends as Björn Borg, Guillermo Vilas, Yvan Lendl, Yannick Noah, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Pete Sampras have all made their mark at Basel.

Swiss Indoors is also the biggest national sporting event in Switzerland with a SFr12 million ($9 million) budget and prize money totalling SFr1.5 million.

Bjorn to blame

Brennwald says the success of the Rhine city’s competition is all down to one man – tennis ace Björn Borg.

As a young director trying to start up the tournament, Brennwald managed to persuade the Swedish champion and tennis idol to come to Basel.

Brennwald says he will never forget his first meeting with Borg.

“It happened in the changing rooms at the Roland-Garros tournament and Borg, impressed by my young age, immediately accepted my proposal,” remembers Brennwald.

“He then came four years in a row, which enabled us to build up a reputation.”

swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux (translation: Isobel Johnson)

Swiss Indoors takes place from October 18-26 at the St Jakobshalle in Basel.
It’s the biggest Swiss sporting event with a budget of SFr12 million and prize money of SFr1.5 million.
65,000 spectators are expected at Basel.

Roger Federer has lost twice in the finals of the Swiss Indoors – in 2000 to the Swede, Thomas Enqvist and in 2001 to the British player, Tim Henman.

Two Swiss have won in Basel: Michel Burgener (1972) and Jakob Hlasek (1991).

Last year Federer lost in the semi-final to the Argentine player, David Nalbandian, who went on to win.

The three top seeds are in Basel: the Spaniard, Juan Carlos Ferrero (no.1), the American, Andy Roddick (no.2) and the Swiss, Roger Federer (no.3).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR