Thursday, October 23, 2014

BabyFederer meets Roger Federer in Basel

BASEL, Switzerland >> Tomorrow evening, Roger Federer will play against Grigor Dimitrov for the second consecutive year at Swiss Indoors Basel quarterfinals in the most highly anticipated match of the tournament.

Dimitrov and Federer have been drawn close to each other in several tournaments in the past few months, but the two have managed to avoid having to play each other. In fact, no two players currently in the top 10 (Dimitrov dropped out of the top 10 on Monday) have played each other less often than Dimitrov and Federer.

The match has garnered such hype from the comparisons of Dimitrov to Federer, which began when the Bulgarian was just a junior. The similarities between the two were so obvious, that Dimitrov has eaned the nickname BabyFederer. Whether he likes it or not, the name has stuck with him even after he cracked the top 10 and had the rare accomplishment of winning titles on all three surfaces in just a five-month span.

The similarities extent beyond just the logos on their rackets, shoes, and shirts. Everything Dimitrov does from the way he hits the ball to his footwork to his habit of wiping his mouth with his wristband draws comparisons to Federer.

Many are quick to point out the differences between the tactically, which is an argument that has some validity. Federer tends to be more intelligent with his shot selection, more aggressive in court-positioning, and is more willing to approach the net. However, when the No. 5 seed does decide to take the ball early or approach the net, the similarities between the two are illuminated.

The two players also share a love for trick shots. Dimitrov has hit several amazing tweeners, facing the net and even gone behind the back against Viktor Troicki and Jack Sock more recently. Dimitrov also isn't afraid to hit winners while sliding into the splits. Federer's trick shots have a higher degree of difficulty hitting smashes and tweeners with his back to the net. He has also been known to pull out some genius head fakes like a point guard in the NBA.

The second match between Federer and BabyFederer will start not before 10 p.m. local time.The winner of their match will play either Ivo Karlovic or Benjamin Becker. Both players have dropped one set en route to the quarterfinals.

In their meeting last year, Federer needed just 92 minutes to defeat Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6(2). The No. 1 seed will try to repeat the performance as he battles for the year-end No. 1 title. Dimitrov, who is the No. 5 seed in Basel, is on the bubble for London qualification.
Their match last year produced some rallies that normally you could only find in a video game. If you want to know who would win if Federer played himself, just watch the highlights from their match last year. There's no better way to see just how amazingly similar they are than to see them both on the same court at once.

My prediction: Dimitrov in 3

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