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September 22 04:28
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Fed Wins, Paris draw no-shows could include Joker, Murray

Basel final 2011

November 06, 2011 | 09:44 AM

Selecting Brad Gilbert as his coach at age 21 says something about 21 year old wild card finalist Kei Nishikori, who may be wise beyond his years. It also suggests the upward mobility he's shown this week wasn't lost on the wiley coyote of coaching - no doubt Gilbert will get other coaching opportunities with Asia's top prospects. Kei's win yesterday over Joker, 6-0 in the 3rd, was the first time an Asian man had beaten a standing #1 player, and his 3 setter over Berdych in the first round was no mean feat. His resume and his ranking (up 7 places after Basel, to #24) have been burnished before his first appearance in the Paris Paribas Masters this week, where he is squarely in the Serbian corner of the draw (facing Troicki in the 2nd round and Joker in the 3rd, assuming he gets by a qualifier after his long week in Basel).

If there is a silver lining to his not getting much court time today with Roger, it is that he didn't have to log more than another hour in Basel as fodder for Federer's pace and directional changes, losing 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour. Kei had not faced Roger before and whatever Brad told him about returning is going to need practice: he won only 6 return points.

For Fed, winning at home was as sweet as ever: whether it was playing in front of family and friends, or thinking back to his days there as a ball boy, saying he'd be back next year was enough to bring tears to his eyes.

Coming to Paris with his 2nd title of the year snugly in his bag, Roger's in as good a position as he's ever been to win his first indoor event in Paris. His draw is comfortable with a spot in Murray's half, which feels odd to say, but the choice would be Joker's half.

Question is: will either the ailing #1 Serb or the hurting Scot show up?

If not, 6th seeded Jo Tsonga or the 12th seeded Del Potro may be the likely finalists from the Joker half (Ferrer and Monfils share the space, but have not been at their best recently).

As for his own half, Roger doesn't face a threat before the semis, with Gasquet, Simon and Fish the high seeds. Joining Murray in his quarter are Berdych, Roddick and Tipsarevic.

Play starts tomorrow at 5AM, EST, LIVE on The TC. Final Sunday 9am EST.


ATP 2011

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