Roger Federer was far from his best, but it was enough to beat Romania's Marius Copil 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the Swiss Indoors final to win his 99th career ATP Tour title on Sunday. It was Federer's ninth title in his hometown event in Basel, the same event where he was once a ball boy during his childhood days.
The Swiss ace matched the nine he won at the Halle grass-court event in Germany and in the process closed the gap on the all-time singles titles list to Jimmy Connors, who leads with 109.
An emotional Federer burst into tears after winning his first ATP title since June. He blew kisses to a 12,000 crowd in the renovated St. Jakobhalle, which now gives Basel’s local hero a bigger main stage.
“It’s been a magical week. It was dream run for me,” Federer said in his acceptance speech, before his fans’ ovation brought tears welling in his eyes.
The top-seeded Swiss rallied from trailing by a service break in each set against the 93rd-ranked Romanian, whose serve was measured at 243 kph (151 mph) in his opening service game.
Copil saved two set points with big serves, Federer took the first on his own serve when his opponent sent a forehand long. Federer celebrated with a shout and a pump of his right fist.
In the second set, Copil again quickly broke serve and this time held the key fifth game when Federer had two break points. It was a brief respite until Federer broke in Copil’s next service game despite the Romanian ending one long rally with a backhand lob for a winner.
Federer clinched minutes after saving a break point, taking his first match-point chance when Copil sent a backhand into the net. The Swiss ace's 151st singles final on the ATP tour shaped as one of his biggest mismatches by ranking. He has never lost a final to an opponent ranked below No. 87.
Their first meeting came after Federer amassed 20 Grand Slam singles titles, while Copil has just one career match win at a Grand Slam – in the 2015 Australian Open first round. The 28-year-old Copil came to Basel with career prize money – $1.67 million – significantly less than Federer earned just for winning the Australian Open in January. Copil, currently ranked No. 93, is in line to rise above his career-best ranking of No. 73 when the new list is published Monday.