Rafael Nadal is set to face Roger Federer in a title match for the first time since May 2013.
The 29-year-old Spanish superstar advanced to the Swiss Indoors final on Saturday after beating Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Nadal played his best tennis of the week to set up his match against Federer, who eased to a 6-3, 6-4 win in 64 minutes against unseeded Jack Sock of the United States in the semifinals.
Almost 2½ years after Nadal beat Federer in two sets for the Rome Masters title, the 34th matchup of their careers will come at Federer’s hometown event.
“I have played against Roger hundreds of times around the world,” said Nadal, who has a 23-10 hold over his old rival. “In Madrid a couple of times in finals, but I have never played him in his home.”
Outside of finals, their last competitive meeting was in January 2014, when Nadal won an Australian Open semifinal in three straight sets.
After three straight three-set matches at Basel, Nadal finally got a more straightforward win.
Nadal overcame dropping his serve in the opening game of each set and saved two set points for the fifth-seeded Gasquet in the tiebreaker. He clinched the victory on his second match point when Gasquet sent a backhand wide.
Nadal seemed in trouble trailing 4-3 in the first set when he called for the trainer at a changeover.
Returning with tape below his right knee, Nadal quickly turned the match around and broke Gasquet’s serve twice to take the first set, clinching it with a fierce forehand topspin passing shot.
“I had one scary moment but then it’s fine,” Nadal said. “I am happy with the way the knee answers after that.”
Again, Nadal struggled on serve to start the second set, though Gasquet needed seven break-point chances before finding a winner in an exchange of volleys at the net. Nadal leveled when Gasquet served for the set leading 5-4.
Nadal suggested Federer would start as the favorite Sunday with a better record on indoor hard courts.
“I don’t have the ideal opponent to win again, but I won on grass [against Federer] after a couple of years without winning,” said the two-time Wimbledon champion.