The impression that I had when I saw the draw of the Swiss Indoors Basel (which I call the Basel Open to make short) is really that of an immensely loaded field. Three of ATP’s Fab Four are there (Rafa Nadal being the only one of the Incredible Foursome missing), five top 10 players, nine top 20 players, that’s really what I call a loaded Swiss field.
Which gives, when you look at it, quite an impressive draw.
World no 1 Novak Djokovic makes a comeback to competition after a five-week layoff due to a back injury. Even though he admitted not being 100% yet, he has a very nice draw to ease himself comfortably back into game shape, except perhaps for a tricky first round against the always unpredictable Xavier Malisse. After that, I don’t see him being threatened by either of Lukasz Kubot or Tobias Kamke, nor by his countryman Viktor Troicki (unless Marcos Baghdatis causes an upset there in the first round, but even he doesn’t appear to me as a threat to Nole the Ist). In the semis, though, Djokovic could face a serious threat in either Tomas Berdych or Mardy Fish, both looking to book their spot for the ATP World Tour Finals.
The other half is much more challenging, as new world no 3 Andy Murray, who took a wild card to the event, will have to face many challenges if he wants only to reach the quarterfinals. First to meet Robin Haase for the first time since that absolutely awful match the two of them contested at the US Open, then to meet either Stanislas Wawrinka or Ivan Dodig. And this, only to reach the quarters, where he could meet Janko Tipsarevic, before a possible duel with Roger Federer in the semis. To tell the truth, if Murray comes out as the finalist in this half, he’ll deserve all the praise and admiration that’s been denied him when he overtook Federer in the head trio of the ATP.
As for Federer, he has a draw like a piece of cake. First to meet Potito Starace (tomorrow), then either Jarkko Nieminen or Thomaz Bellucci (although the Finn, a leftie, can be tricky), then most probably his old rival Andy Roddick. He really can’t ask for a sweeter draw.
The tournament starts tomorrow, but the most heartbreaking first-rounders will not take place until Tuesday or Wednesday. Those heartbreak of matches are the ones opposing Mardy Fish and James Blake and the faceoff between Andy Roddick and Tommy Haas.
Who can predict the outcome of the Basel Open? I certainly can’t. Although I would be astonished, as I mentioned, if Roger Federer doesn’t make it to the semis.