Federer’s Basel Story – From Ball Boy to Legend


Basel is the birthplace of arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. This city also has a 500 Series ATP tournament, and although Roger Federer usually skips smaller tournaments, he always likes playing at home.

The Swiss Maestro has played in Based 18 times, winning nine titles out of 14 finals. However, Roger’s story in Basel starts even before his 1998 debut in which he lost to Agassi. Namely, Federer was a ball boy in Basel in 1994 when he was only 13 years old, running after the shots from legends such as Wayne Ferreira and Patrick McEnroe, who were battling for the title.

I think he had a great time. Unfortunately, it was just for one year. It’s an amazing story, he was a ball kid and now a tennis player on the Centre Court, Roger’s mother Lynette remembers.

A year after his first-round loss to Agassi, Federer reached the quarter-finals in Basel, where he was eliminated by Tim Henman. In 2000, he went two steps further once against and reached the final where he lost in five sets to Thomas Enqvist. The following year, he lost in another final, this time to Tim Henman.

Federer failed to win a tournament in his hometown for two more years, but his best years were just ahead of him. The first title came in 2006 when he beat Gonzales in straight sets. Nieminen and Nalbandian were no match for Roger’s excellence in the next two years, so the Swiss tied Stefan Edberg’s record of three titles in Basel.

Federer’s dominance was briefly interrupted when he lost in the 2009 final to Djoković, but he got his revenge next year and won his fourth title. Roger would go on to play Basel final seven more times, winning five titles and losing only twice to Del Potro. He only missed the 2016 tournament due to an injury.

Basel is one of Federer’s most successful tournaments, alongside Wimbledon and Halle. The 38-year-old Swiss will be the favourite to win once again in his hometown, as he is the first seed of the 2019 edition. If he does so, he will become only the second player after Rafael Nadal to win multiple tournaments 10 times in his career.