Roger Federer delighted his home town fans by winning another Swiss Indoors title in Basel - but the final proved a missed opportunity for Juan Martin del Potro to join him in the ATP World Tour Finals.
The Swiss legend defeated the Argentinian 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-3 to secure his seventh tournament of the year and 95th of his career. It was also the eighth time he has won in Basel.
However, Federer has pulled out of the Paris Masters ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals, which means that with a 1,460 point lead, Rafael Nadal is all but certain to finish the year as the world number one. Nadal himself had pulled out of Basel to rest a knee complaint.
Both will still be looking for a big finish to the year in the ATP World Tour finals, and fans booking corporate hospitality for the showpiece event at the O2 Arena will be watching Nadal attempt to win the event for the first time. Following Andy Murray's victory there last year, Nadal is the only member of the 'big four' not to have won the tournament, which would fill the last gap in Nadal's tennis CV.
Del Potro still hopes to be involved in the party, and after winning the Stockholm Open the previous week, it looked like the former US Open champion could move into the final qualifying place. However, his defeat to Federer means he remains just behind Pablo Carreno Busta, and it will take a semi-final appearance in Paris to secure his trip to London.
However, there are other contenders who could still reach the finals as the end of the regular season nears. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also missed a chance to make up ground when he was beaten in the final in Vienna by fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille. The result means Tsonga is 295 points behind Carrena Busta.
The situation going into Paris is that six of the eight places in the men's draw have been filled, with Nadal, Federer, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov guaranteed their spots.
Like Del Potro, David Goffin could secure his berth in London by reaching the semi finals in Paris, while Sam Querry and US Open finalist Kevin Anderson are also in the mix with Tsonga.
Ultimately, however, it is likely all eyes at the O2 will be on Federer and Nadal, as their rivalry this year could come down to the very final match of the season.
Having turned 36, there is still no sign of the Swiss superstar losing his appetite for trophies, and he showed it on court in Basel. Having lost the first set tie-break, he smashed a racket in frustration when he missed a break point early in the second, a moment more typical of his responses to adversity when he was half his current age.
However, the flashpoint clearly fired him up and drove the insatiable tennis legend on to another success.
Paying tribute afterwards, Del Potro said: "It's unbelievable how well Roger is playing. I hope to be in such shape when I'm his age. But I doubt I will be."
Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription