Roger Federer has reached the final at Halle. This is his 8th Halle final (out of which he won the title 5 times) and his 2nd final of the year. The journey there wasn’t easy as he faced defending champion Tommy Haas in a rematch of last year’s final. Tommy played an excellent first set and took advantage of a sub-par Roger. The Maestro’s forehands didn’t have much accuracy and he conceded a break while serving to go up to 3 all. From then on Tommy didn’t look back. Although he provided ample break point opportunities for Roger, he raised his game during the big points and, combined with Federer’s typically dismal break point conversion rate, Haas took the first set 6-3.
Being one set down must have galvanized the Maestro for he came out on firing on all cylinders in the second set. He became much more aggressive, broke Tommy immediately and consolidated to go up 3-0. He never offered a break point opportunity for Tommy and served very well with 6 aces. Tommy couldn’t even get a sniff of an opportunity. As Tommy himself explained,
The ball bounced very close in the corners, very close to the lines. He played all of a sudden a little bit more aggressive I think wanting to change up his style of play a little bit and it paid off…There wasn’t much I could have done about the break that I got. From then on he also served extremely well. Every time when there was a chance, maybe 15:30 or even 15 all, he served and placed the ball extremely well. I didn’t have many looks really during his service games.
The third set was more of the same with Roger serving 5 aces while Tommy giving him the break with two successive double faults. Tommy actually served 9 double faults in the whole match which did not help his cause. But I think overall there was some high quality tennis, and the kind that only grass courts can provide; short, creative points with the ball staying low. Here are the stats.More than the stats, I think the match itself was important for Roger in many ways. After facing two opponents outside of the top 100 he couldn’t have gauged how he would fare against a top player in form. Plus he had to fight back from a set down. In my previous posts I have alluded to the fact that I think Roger’s (relative) lack of success this year has been mostly due to mental issues, a lack of self-belief. This match will go a long way to remove those cobwebs of doubt from his head. Now not only will he be more confident at the final tomorrow but this will also help for his mental preparation for Wimbledon. I liked what Roger said in his presser,
It was a great match for me to play and then also to win… Clearly I wasn’t sure how well I was really playing coming into the semis. So, I’m very happy that I was able to maintain really a high level of play. After losing the first set there’s not that much margin anymore…Then in the second and third I was able to turn it around and win the big points myself. So, it was a big, good win for me. And I thought the quality was also extremely high.
And so Roger is now back in the final at Halle for the 2nd year running. He will face the world # 29 Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Their H2H is 14-0 with Mikhail having taken only 3 sets in those 14 meetings. They met 3 times last year with QF clashes at Dubai and Wimbledon and a SF meeting at Halle. Mikhail has absolutely nothing to lose and reached the final with a comprehensive win over 2nd seed, Gasquet. I’m sure he’ll be thinking the finals will be a great place to break this losing streak and it will be up to Roger to prevent that from happening. This will be Roger’s 112th career final. The match is scheduled for 2:00pm local time Sunday. Wishing our champ the very best! Allez!