BASEL Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro will meet on Sunday for the first time since their epic Olympic Games clash after both beat French opponents to reach the final of the Basel Open.
Argentine Del Potro overpowered Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 to reach his fifth final of the year while world number one Federer met more resistance before beating Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5 6-4.
Federer has spoiled what has otherwise been an excellent year for Del Potro, winning all six of his meetings against the Argentine on a mixture of clay, grass and hard courts.
The most recent of those was their astonishing Olympic semi-final at Wimbledon where Federer won a 36-game final set.
Del Potro, who claimed his third title of the year in Vienna last week, also lost to Federer in the quarter-finals of the Australian and French Opens, the Rotterdam final, the Indian Wells quarter-final and the Dubai semi-finals.
Overall, Federer has won 13 out of 15 meetings with Del Potro whose only wins over the Swiss were at the U.S. Open final in 2009 and at the World Tour Finals the same year.
"You have to hit winners all the time and see if you have a chance to win, there are very few players who can beat him," Del Potro told reporters.
"This year, I have lost to him six times already, I was very close at the Olympics and I was ahead at the French open."
"It will give me a chance to measure myself against him and see how far I have come."
"The important thing is to keep getting closer to the top five," added Del Potro, who has edged his way back towards the top despite a series of injuries including a wrist problem which forced him to miss most of the 2010 season.
Gasquet provided some resistance for the first four games which all went with serve.
Del Potro then won the next four games to take the first set which he wrapped up with his third ace of the match.
Both players lost their opening serve in the second set and, although Del Potro's serve was not at its best, he was still far too powerful for the Frenchman, running out an easy winner to win his eighth match in a row.
Federer did not have to face one break point against Mathieu, converting two of the four that came his way to ease into the final of his hometown where he will be looking for a sixth title on Sunday.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Martyn Herman)