Federer eyes sixth Basel title
Basel - Roger Federer will on Sunday bid for his sixth trophy from seven editions of his home Swiss Indoors after defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 6-4 in Saturday's semi-finals.
The world number one will line up for the seventh time this season against Argentine dangerman Juan Martin del Potro, who reached his second final in succession with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Federer has won all six 2012 encounters with Del Potro, whose best previous Basel performance was a 2008 semi-final.
Top seed Federer's win over Mathieu, a fellow over-30 player, saw the home star send down 10 aces without facing a break point in just under 90 minutes.
"I'm very happy to be in this final again," said Basel native Federer, who leads the ATP with six trophies this season and is fighting to finish the year as number one.
"I've been serving really well. A lot of things have gone my way this week, it's been good so far. The final will be tough, even if I've beaten Del Potro so many times.
"We always have difficult matches including five sets at the French Open and 19-17 in the Olympics. He's playing well so I'll have to be ready."
Federer won his ninth Basel semi-final from 10 played, with his lone loss at this stage coming to Argentine David Nalbandian a decade ago.
The Swiss also moved alongside John McEnroe for fourth place in the post-1968 Open era with 875 career match wins.
Second seed Del Potro, the champion last weekend in Vienna after returning from a month away with a left wrist problem, was pleased with his serving.
"It was almost perfect today," said the South American, who has now beaten Gasquet in five of their six meetings, including three in 2012.
"I was very pleased with my serve. But I still have work to do -- I had two double faults in the second set. If I want to win the title, I can't have that. But overall I'm glad about my level, I'm ready for a fight in the final."
Del Potro swept up the opening set in 31 minutes and traded breaks with Gasquet to start the second, before the 2009 US Open champion opened up a 5-2 lead.
"I was a little tired, and I was serving poorly," said Gasquet. "He was making great returns.
"He's a tough opponent for me, and he was by far the best player on the court today. I can play better, but he's certainly not easy for me."
Gasquet is chasing one of two remaining spots in the year-end World Tour Finals in London starting November 5.
He stands 10th in the points race with two more positions in the eight-man field still open -- they will be decided at the Paris Masters next week.
Del Potro qualified this week after reaching the quarter-finals, helped by the injury withdrawal of Rafael Nadal.
The 2008 Basel semi-finalist has won a career-best 61 matches this season and extended his current win streak to eight matches.