Roger Federer returns to one of his happiest hunting grounds this week at the Swiss Indoors Basel, where he’s not only a nine-time champion, but also on an incredible 20-match winning streak.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was born in Basel and used to be a ball kid at the event.
“It’s very difficult to explain what it feels like to play in Basel,” he said. “Just walking out for a final in Basel was always my dream—even playing on center court for the qualies was a thrill 21 years ago.
“When the trophy ceremony’s starting and the ball kids walk out, I remember being in their shoes, and me walking out. I give them all a medal and thank them for their efforts, and I feel like I’m looking at myself in some ways, when Wayne Ferreira and other great players gave me my first medal here. To come through and win here in my hometown always means a lot to me. It’s very emotional.”
He’s done a lot of winning in his hometown, capturing nine titles in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 and making another five finals in 2000, 2001, 2009, 2012 and 2013. He’s reached the final the last 12 times he’s played the event, and in 14 of 18 overall appearances, too.
He has a 71-9 career record at the ATP 500-level event and he’s 20-0 over the last five years, his last loss coming against Juan Martin del Potro in the 2013 final. He missed the 2016 event with a knee injury.
If Federer goes on to win Basel for the 10th time, it’ll be the second event he’s won 10 or more times—he won Halle for the 10th time this year. He’s one of only two men in the Open era to win the same event 10 or more times (Rafael Nadal’s done it at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros).
There’s one major milestone he’ll reach just by stepping onto the court for his opening match: Federer’s first-round match in Basel will be his 1,500th career match, making him the second man in the Open Era to play 1,500 or more tour-level matches (Jimmy Connors played 1,556). Federer has a 1,231-268 career record, while Connors finished with a 1,274-282 career record.
The Swiss will open against a yet-to-be-determined qualifier on Monday night. The world No. 3 is the top seed and one of four Top-10 players in the field. He could play fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and world No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals, while No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut are in the bottom half of the draw.