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Swiss continue to shine in Basel

Federer had few difficulties against Xavier Malisse Keystone

The quarter-finals of this year's Swiss Indoors tennis tournament will for the first time feature three Swiss players, following second round wins on Thursday for Roger Federer, Michel Kratochvil and George Bastl.

This content was published on October 25, 2001 - 21:29

Federer's win over Belgium's Xavier Malisse was the more expected of Thursday's three Swiss wins, and proved to be a suitably routine affair for the Swiss number one.

Shooting into a 3-0 lead at the start of the first set, Federer was only slowed up by his opponent calling for treatment on a thigh injury. A quick massage appeared to bring about an improvement in the young Belgian's play, but he was still unable to prevent the even younger Federer clinching the set 6-3.

A further break for Federer in the second was enough to see the 20-year-old from Basel into his third Basel quarter-final with a 6-3, 6-4 winning margin. For once, the 20-year-old Swiss will be the senior player in his next match, when he takes on American teenage prodigy Andy Roddick.

"I have been hoping all year to get a match against him," Federer told swissinfo after his latest win. "He's been playing extremely well and everyone's been talking about him, particularly about his serve. So I'm going to try my best to break him with my home crowd behind me."

Kratochvil wins thriller

The greatest drama of the second round was provided by Swiss number two Michel Kratochvil who knocked out French fifth seed Arnaud Clement in a match which went all the way to a deciding set tie-break.

Having won the first set 6-3 and lost the second 6-1, the 22-year-old from Bern appeared to have blown his chances when he was broken near the end of the third set, allowing Clement to serve for the match.

But after defending match point at 5-4 down, Kratochvil fought back - breaking the Frenchman level to set up the tie-break.

Even then the young Swiss was to test the nerves of the Basel crowd, handing Clement three more match points with the score at 6-3.

Knife edge

Incredibly Kratochvil came back again, with a stunning return in between two unforced Clement errors putting the encounter back on a knife edge.

It was the Swiss player who was to make the final cut, winning the next two rallies to complete a thrilling 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6) win.

"There is nothing better than playing a match like that, so long as you win at the end," a delighted Kratochvil told swissinfo. "The reason I've worked all those hours on the court and in the gym is to win games like this. It's a match I'll remember all my life and it's just great to win it at home."

Having seen off the world number 13, Kratochvil now finds himself facing the world number nine with Britain's Tim Henman forming his quarter-final opposition.

"I'm just going to go out there and believe that I can win again," said Kratochvil with a smile. "Obviously after a match like the one I've just had I almost feel like I can't lose, but I know that tougher times are going to come again. For now, though, I'm just going to enjoy myself. I'm at home, playing my last tournament of the year and hopefully I can go out with a bang."

Tie break joy for Bastl

George Bastl's win over Czech world number 33 Bohdan Ulihrach may not have been quite as dramatic as Kratochvil's victory but it was almost as tight with the Swiss number five needing two tie-breaks to book his place in the quarter-finals.

In the last eight Bastl is now set to meet French world number 67 Julien Boutter who sprung the biggest surprise of the first round by knocking out world number one Gustavo Kuerten.

"I'll try to get as much rest as I can before the match," Bastl told swissinfo on Thursday, "and then I'm going to go out and give it my all just like I've done all this week. And if I can play my shots, and impose my game we'll see what happens."

by Mark Ledsom, Basel

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