Rafael Nadal has reached the final at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, defeating Richard Gasquet in a tough two set match, 6-4, 7-6. The win was arguably Nadal's best of the week, and the first time he's come through in straight sets. One last obstacle stands in the Spaniard's way- either Roger Federer or Jack Sock. Nadal has been having a phenomenal few weeks in Beijing, Shanghai and Basel in contrast to his season overall, so the former world number one will do everything he can to finish his campaign this week in the perfect way tomorrow.
Slow Start From Nadal
Nadal kicked off the match, serving to try and come out strong instead of having a slow start like his previous matches in Basel. Nadal, with two forehand winners, had game point, but he dumped a smash into the net to send it to deuce, then double faulted to gift the Frenchman a break point. With a backhand error from the Spaniard, he was broken immediately, losing serve early on. Despite it going to deuce, Gasquet, firing down two aces, consolidated the break to get off to a perfect start in this semi-final.
Nadal, with a forehand followed by a backhand winner, gained the upper hand in his service game, then with a fantastic volley, got on the board for the first time, 1-2. Gasquet kept hold of the break though with some nice work at the net, a forehand error, and two aces, holding to love 3-1. It was a perfect service game, and the Frenchman appeared calm and collected.
Injury Scare For Nadal
In the next game, Nadal was flexing and touching his right knee in between points, moving gingerly. He was able to wrap up the game, holding to 15, but the Spaniard called the trainer after the game. Nadal took a pill and carried on playing. The next game was highly competitive, with Rafa starting his return chances with a backhand winner, but Gasquet following up with a superb forehand down the line. The two were involved in some tough baseline exchanges, but the Frenchman got out of the game, holding 4-2.
Rafa threw another double fault in his service game, but managed to level the score at 30-30. Nadal appeared pretty concerned about his right knee, trying to move on it as lightly as possible. Gasquet kept up his deep and heavy hitting to take the game to deuce, but the Spaniard held nicely to prevent a further break, 3-4.
On the changeover, Nadal got his knee taped up, the first time since his major knee injury in 2012. Despite this scare, the Spaniard was able to keep his game intact, gaining a break point with a great approach. On his first chance, Nadal broke back to level the set at 4-4, becoming only the second man to break Gasquet this week. He then consolidated fantastically to love, leading for the first time at 5-4.
Luckily for Nadal, his right knee problem didn't seem to be too major, as he was still able to keep playing to a good level. It’s worth noting that it’s the first time this year he’s playing a long stretch on courts with such a low bounce, meaning he’s had to bend down a lot more than he’s used to, most likely what’s caused the issue behind his knee.
The Spaniard Fights Back
Gasquet’s game turned patchy, which Nadal took advantage of, going up 0-30 with some more confident hitting. However, the Frenchman was able to steady his game, leveling at 30-30. An incredible banana forehand down the line then gave Nadal a set (and break) point, but Gasquet saved it with a backhand passing shot. The Spaniard gained another set point, clipping the line, but with a good serve and smash the Frenchman saved it again. Despite being a break down and battling through a knee scare, Nadal finally managed to clinch the first set 6-4 and put himself just one set away from the final in Basel.
Gasquet Comes Out Firing
Gasquet got off to a perfect start, grabbing hold of three break points. Nadal, however, saved the first with a forehand winner, and the second with a cross court backhand. On the third, Gasquet made the error, and the game was stretched out to deuce. Nadal was hanging on by a thread, with the game, the longest and most exciting of the match, flicking backwards and forwards between deuce and advantage. Gasquet took his seventh break point with some nice work at the net, finally breaking for 1-0.
Nadal stayed sharp on his return, winning a fantastic couple of points with a lob and a volley. Unfortunately for Gasquet, he double faulted to give Nadal a break back point, but the Spaniard missed a forehand down the line, taking it to deuce. The Frenchman got out of a tight game to keep the break, 2-0. Nadal held his own serve more easily, to 30, featuring a fantastic banana forehand down the line winner. He was keeping the intensity up, despite the threat from the other side of the net.
The Frenchman Stays In Control
The fourteen Grand Slam champion had a break point in the next game, playing aggressively and fighting back into points. However, Gasquet saved it with a well positioned serve, an aspect of his game that was almost flawless today. The Frenchman was able to crawl out of the game and edge ahead, 3-1. Nadal held serve to 15 with an incredible cross court passing shot, keeping just the one break separating the two, 2-3.
A phenomenal lob from Nadal kicked off the game, and he continued to make an impression with some nice forehands, but the Frenchman followed up with some good serving to hold and keep the break, 4-2. Nadal held serve quickly to 15 with some nice serving and groundstrokes to control the game. He was still down a break, however. Gasquet held to love with immaculate serving, putting himself just one game away from leveling the match at one apiece, 5-3. Nadal forced the Frenchman to serve the second set out, holding to love and sealing it with an ace.
Nadal Makes A Comeback To Win The Match
Taking advantage of a double fault from Gasquet, Nadal whipped a backhand cross court to gain two break points. He took his first with a nice series of forehands, breaking back for 5-5. The next game was highly competitive with lots of intense rallies, but Nadal held his nerve to hold, putting himself just one game away from the final, 6-5. Gasquet held serve nicely too, and took the set to a tiebreak.
Nadal went up a mini break straight away with some nice work at the net, 2-0. The Spaniard kept hold of his serve confidently to go up 4-1, and Gasquet followed suit, holding both of his points. It was still just the one mini break that separated them. The Frenchman capitalized on an error from Nadal, taking the mini break back for 4-4. Another error from Nadal gave Gasquet a mini-break, and shortly afterwards he had a chance to serve for the set, but the Spaniard snatched it back. Nadal levelled up at 6-6. With a forehand winner, Nadal claimed his first match point, but Gasquet whipped a backhand down the line to save it. Nadal grabbed hold of another with a stroke just clipping the line, and this time he took it, winning the match 6-4, 7-6.