Thursday, June 22, 2017

Roger Federer into his 15th quarter-final at Gerry Weber Open in Halle

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The last time Roger Federer and Mischa Zverev played at the Gerry Weber Open in 2013, the Swiss star scored a double bagel victory in the quarter-finals. Their second-round match in Halle on Thursday was far more competitive, but top seed Federer came out on top once again with a 7-6(4), 6-4 win.

Federer improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Zverev to 4-0, including a win this year in the Australian Open quarter-finals. He has yet to drop a set against the German. The Swiss star improves to 56-6 in Halle and 15-0 in second-round matches at this event.

Awaiting Federer in the quarter-finals is another German in defending champion Florian Mayer, who defeated sixth seed Lucas Pouille earlier in the day. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 7-0, including three straight-sets wins in Halle (2005, 2012, 2015).

Both Federer and Zverev traded service holds throughout the opening set, with the German bravely saving three set points on his serve at 4-5. Little separated them throughout the tie-break, but Federer raised his level when it mattered most at 5/4, flicking two backhand passing shot winners to grab the early advantage.

Their serves continued to be in top form throughout the second set, but it was Zverev who blinked first. Federer laced a forehand passing shot at 4-4 for the lone break of the match and then comfortably held serve to prevail in one hour and 30 minutes.

The eight-time Halle champion didn't face a break point in the contest and finished the day with 28 winners to 18 unforced errors. Zverev hit 18 winners to 23 unforced errors, but the stats aren't a clear indicator of the high level of tennis he produced throughout the match.

Federer was quick to acknowledge that today’s match bore no resemblance to the double bagel he handed out to Zverev when they met in Halle in 2013.

“It was totally different. He started serving great, which put me under pressure as I wasn’t getting many looks,” Federer said. “It was important to stay calm after missing chances to win the set at 5-4. And it’s important to win ‘breakers. They are the sets you need to win to win tournaments. It felt like a close ‘breaker that could have gone either way.

“After I got that in the bag I was really able to start to relax and really play and feel the way I want to feel out there. That’s the first time I’ve felt like that since Miami, so that’s a good sign looking ahead.”

Although Federer leads Mayer 7-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, the unorthodox German did push Federer to two tie-breaks when they met on grass in Stuttgart last year. And after combatting very different playing styles in his first two rounds, Federer expects further contrast Friday.

“I played against a right hander from the baseline in Sugita, a left hander who serves and volleys all the time (Zverev) and Mayer plays very different to everyone else. He uses slice, he comes in, he chips and charges, he loops the ball and serves/volleys a little bit, so he’s really going to throw everything at me. I know he wants it badly, so it will be a tough one. I played my best match today and that will give me some confidence for tomorrow.

“I think he’s most dangerous on the grass. He’s a tough customer, plus he’s the defending champion. He hasn’t had the best season so far, so there is a lot riding on the match for him as well as for me because we both want to go deep into this tournament.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Roger Federer starts off his 9th Gerry Weber Open campaign in Halle with a win

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Roger Federer added another milestone to his historic career on Tuesday, celebrating his 1,100th match win to start his Gerry Weber Open campaign in Halle. The eight-time champion breezed past lucky loser Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-3, 6-1 in 52 minutes to move into the second round at the ATP World Tour 500 event.

The 35-year-old Federer rebounded nicely from his early exit last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart. Federer led by a set and a break and had a match point against longtime friend Tommy Haas but fell to the German 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.

Against Sugita, Federer started smoothly and stayed aggressive. He hit his fourth ace to claim the opener in only 21 minutes. For the match, Federer won 90 per cent of his first-serve points (26/29).

The top seed improved to 20-2 on the season. He will next face the serve-and-volleying Mischa Zverev, who dismissed Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4.

Zverev's younger brother, #NextGenATP German Alexander Zverev, also cruised in his Halle opener. The World No. 12 saved all three break points faced and needed only 59 minutes to beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi6-3, 6-2. Zverev reached the semi-finals at the Ricoh Open last week before losing to eventual titlist Gilles Muller.

Zverev will meet compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. The 33-year-old Kohlschreiber leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Martina Hingis to play Mallorca Open

Organizers of the WTA Mallorca Open, held at the Santa Ponsa Tennis Club from 18 to 25 June 2017, announced Thursday that Martina Hingis will come to the Balearic Island.

The 36-year-old from Switzerland has spent a total of 209 weeks as the singles world No. 1 and has won five major singles titles, twelve Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, winning a calendar-year doubles Grand Slam in 1998, and five Grand Slam mixed doubles titles; for a combined total of twenty-two major titles. In addition, Hingis has captured the season-ending WTA Championships two times in singles and three times in doubles and is an Olympic medalist.

Since 2013 Hingis has only played doubles and will compete in Mallorca alongside her 27-year-old partner Chan Yung-Jan of Taiwan.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Roger Federer draws confidence from Halle return

If Roger Federer is looking for a little confidence pick-me-up early in his comeback, there’s no better place to be than the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Federer has won this grass-court ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament eight times, more than any other event.

“The history I have here, having come and played well so often, definitely should help me to play good tennis this week,” Federer said Sunday. “I love playing here. Yes, I think I can come in here with good confidence.”

Federer opens against World No. 68 Yen-Hsun Lu, against whom he has a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record, winning all seven sets they have played. Lu has a 28-34 tour-level record on grass and enjoyed his most memorable moment on the surface in 2010, when he stunned Andy Roddick 9-7 in the fifth set in the Wimbledon fourth round.

Federer will be a heavy favourite against Lu, but after his surprise defeat to former World No. 2 Tommy Haas in Stuttgart, the Swiss won’t take the match lightly. “It’s important for me, especially after the Stuttgart week, to come here and make sure I win my first-round match and get going. I want to take the right decisions on the tennis court. I don’t want to question myself too much. I’ll have the right focus and mindset, that point-by-point mentality. That was a little bit off in Stuttgart, understandably so. I have to learn from that week and move forward in a better way.”

Federer won the tournament five consecutive years between 2003-07 and most recently in 2015. Last year he suffered a surprising semi-final loss to then World No. 38 Alexander Zverev, who one year later finds himself inside the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Federer has a potential second-round meeting with Zverev’s older brother, Mischa Zverev, whom he defeated 6-0, 6-0 five years ago in Halle. But Zverev is a far-improved player whose serve-and-volley game is well suited to grass. And the German on Monday will break into the Top 30 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career.

Despite his opening-round defeat to Haas last week in Stuttgart, where Federer returned after a two-month sabbatical, the Swiss said that he had not second-guessed his decision to skip the entire clay swing after beginning the season 19-1, with titles at the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level in Indian Wells and Miami.

“It could have been better in Stuttgart, but then again I had match point,” Federer said. “It wasn’t like I lost 6-2, 6-2 and everything was terrible. A comeback is never simple, especially on grass where margins are so slim. It’s a serve or a passing shot or a return that determines the outcome of the match. That’s what it ended up being against Tommy, even though I felt I should have found a way home, having been a set and a break up.

“Considering how well I felt going into Paris, it was surprisingly easy to take the decision and after making it I never had any regrets watching it or following the results. I never thought ‘If only I was part of the tournament.’ I was looking ahead to the grass season and enjoyed the time with my friends and family at home.

“It was a decision that was taken within a couple of days. It wasn’t something I saw myself doing weeks and months ahead of the tournament. For a long time the schedule was to play Paris but all of a sudden I just felt that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it. I didn’t want to compromise the goal of the grass-court season, Wimbledon, the US Open and beyond.

"I felt that the French Open may potentially have a negative effect on what’s to come. It may have been helpful, but I felt there was more risk that it would go the other way. Based on health, that’s why I decided to skip.

"But it’s not a trend that I might follow in the future. I don’t know what the future holds. This was just a one-off decision."

When Federer began his break after Miami, he had a significant lead over Rafael Nadal in the Emirates ATP Race To London, which is an indictor of which player will finish the season year-end No. 1. But after his stunning clay-court season, when he won a 10th title in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros – in addition to winning Madrid – Nadal has opened a massive 2,870 point lead over his rival.

Nadal has withdrawn from The Aegon Championships to rest, giving Federer the opportunity to close the gap by 500 points should he win a ninth Halle title. The seven-time Wimbledon champion could pick up 2,000 points by winning the title at the All England Club.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Roger Federer looks to rebound in Halle

After the disappointment of his opening-round exit last week in Stuttgart, Roger Federer is looking to make amends next week as the top seed at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

The Swiss is an eight-time former champion at this ATP World Tour 500 grass-court tournament and goes in one win away from his 1,100th tour-level victory. Federer lifted the trophy in Halle in 2003-06, 2008, 2013-15 and is looking to win his 16th grass-court title.

The 35-year-old Federer opens his campaign against Yen-Hsun Lu and could face Mischa Zverev in the second round; the German left-hander made the semi-finals in Stuttgart (l. to Lopez).

Federer is projected to face sixth seed Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals, though the sixth-seeded Frenchman faces a tricky opener against 6’5" German Jan-Lennard Struff.

Also in Federer’s half of the draw is third seed Kei Nishikori, who is searching for his first grass-court trophy next week. The Japanese star faces Fernando Verdasco in the first round and is in the same quarter of the draw as Ivo Karlovic, a winner of three grass-court titles.

Dominic Thiem is the second seed. The Austrian is coming off his second straight Roland Garros semi-final (l. to Nadal) and will start his grass-court campaign against either Robin Haase or David Ferrer. The 23-year-old Thiem won his first ATP World Tour grass-court title last year in Stuttgart. He is in the same section of the draw as 39-year-old wild card Tommy Haas and fifth seed Gael Monfils.

#NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev rounds out the top four seeds. The home favourite, who lost today in the ‘s-Hertogebosch semi-finals (l. to Muller), is chasing his fifth ATP World Tour title and first on grass after finishing runner-up to Florian Mayer in the Halle final last year. The 20 year old will meet Paolo Lorenzi in the first round and could face 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Roger Federer feeling positive despite early round exit in Stuttgart

Roger Federer may have suffered a shocking upset in his opening round defeat on Wednesday to Tommy Haas at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, but he isn’t ringing alarm bells just yet.
Although he squandered a match point in the second-set tie-break in losing to the home favourite, the match was filled with plenty of winners and high-quality hitting. However, Federer said that simply hitting well isn’t satisfying enough without it translating into a win.

“Coming here and losing in the semis last year, now the opening round this year, it’s not what I was hoping to do. Especially on grass courts, close to home, in Germany, which has been a good hunting ground for me. It’s not good enough,” said Federer. “If you don’t take your chances like I didn’t, leading a set and a break, you really only have yourself to blame at the end.

“I would have liked to stay here longer and given myself the best possible chance to win the tournament, so that’s a letdown,” he added. “I really enjoy my time here in Stuttgart.”

The result may not have been what Federer envisioned, but several of his shots were in vintage form after a long layoff. He hit 23 aces, fired forehand winners from all parts of the court and snuck into the net for winning volleys on numerous occasions.

But while it’s clear that Federer had been putting in work on the practice court, he admitted his lapses in form came from a lack of match play.

“It wasn’t all bad, not at all. There were definitely some good moments, but I definitely was not as sharp as I was hoping to be in the big moments, or the moment when I had the lead and feel I should have been cruising,” said Federer. “I definitely made some crucial mistakes and judgment errors.”

Despite suffering his first opening-round loss at a grass court event since Wimbledon in 2002 (l. Ancic), the Swiss star is always optimistic and immediately recognised potential benefits to an early exit. Even if Federer lifts the title next week at the ATP World Tour event in Halle, he won’t have overplayed heading into Wimbledon. He’ll have nearly a week of additional time to train on grass and fine-tune his game before his next match.

Competing in his first match since 2 April, when he defeated Rafael Nadal to prevail at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami, his body also responded well to the physical test of a long three-set match.

“It gives me more time for Halle. As a positive thinker, that’s what I see,” said Federer. “I’ve been on grass for over two weeks… It’s good to play a match again. I really feel the body. It feels different right now than it does after practise. It just makes you tired. There are some positives to take away. It will give me good preparation going into Halle and then Wimbledon is soon.”