My blog is actually quite new. Despite being an avid tennis fan for many many years, I launched my blog only last year during the Shanghai Masters. This means I’ve been waiting for a day like this since last October. Now that it’s here I am overjoyed to write the following: “Roger Federer wins his 6th Gerry Weber Open at Halle!”
Finally! The streak of no wins has been broken. It took 10 months and 11 tournaments from Cincy last year before the Maestro won a title. The fact that it was at Halle should surprise no one. It’s grass, our champ’s favorite surface. Once again I am left to ponder how many titles he could’ve won had there been more tournaments on grass courts. Imagine a grass courts Masters! But I am digressing so ending my rant here and moving on. *sigh*
I won’t go too much into the details of the match for you can find it everywhere. To cut the story short, Roger didn’t have an easy match win. Youzhny played some of the best tennis I have seen him play in a while and showed why it was not a fluke that he reached the final. The Swiss missed out on 5 break point opportunities in the first set and ultimately paid the price when he lost the set in the tie-break. Roger’s forehand was misfiring quite a bit and he committed 13 unforced errors in that set. However, just as it was in the SFs, that first set loss galvanized Roger and he upped his game in every way. In the second set he cut down his unforced errors to only 4 and blitzed through his service games. He was finally able to break Mikhail benefiting from a double fault from the Russian and then held steady to take the set. The third set was more of the same. Only 3 unforced errors from Roger combined with great serving and a break took the scores to 5-4 with the Swiss having to serve it out. He showed no nerves (contrary to me who felt nauseous) and before I could prepare myself, it was done! 2 hours and 2 minutes of tension swept away with a wave of relief and joy – well, for me at least! I presume the Maestro felt a modicum of happiness too 😉
As I saw Roger lift that gigantic trophy over his head, I was finally able to breathe normally again and with that, I could think about the match a bit more calmly. I immediately realized that though it was tough to sit through him dropping the first set and then having to fight back, it was the best way for him to get this win. In this sense I was happy with the SFs too. It showed that he was mentally strong and was more than up for the fight. In both cases he ultimately won by raising his own level, and not just be depending on his opponents to falter. He dictated both matches from the very first game of the second set and did not look back. He maintained a high standard of play throughout and did not ease up on the gas pedal until the job was done. In those last two sets of the final he looked alert and energetic and the lethargy and confusion we saw in some of his previous losses this season were not there at all. He believed in himself and executed his plan aggressively. I was pleased to see that apparently I thought along the same lines as Roger himself *patting myself on the back*. Here’s a segment from his presser,
It’s good to fight as well the last couple of matches after two easy ones at the beginning. I had to come from losing the first set twice, then coming back to win is a great feeling…. I would say in this phase it is better not to have won in straight sets. Previously I either won or lost in straight sets. So, I’m very satisfied with the way I played and that I had to fight for title. It really means a lot to me.
In my last post of the French Open I theorized that his recent problems of losing matches earlier than expected was more of a mental issue. I then said the following: “I think what he sorely needs is a title, any title. He needs to play well throughout an entire tournament and actually win the whole thing. I feel once he gets his confidence back he will relax and play his natural game more and trust his instincts.” I still firmly stand by my statement and Roger seemed to echo similar sentiments as well,
Winning solves everything really. So, for me it’s great in terms of confidence. I feel like I know what I need to do… There’s still things I believe I can improve on but I think that will then happen when the moment is there when Wimbledon starts. But overall I’m very pleased with the way I played and I’m happy with the week.
There are of course those who will say this was just a lowly ATP 250 and not a grand slam. To them I ask whether Rafa seemed unhappy at winning his first tournament this year which was also an ATP 250; maybe we should ask him to give it back since it’s too insignificant to matter? Sarcasm intended there. At the end of the day, a title is a title and I think this was the best possible mindset and preparation Roger could have before heading to Wimbledon. I am looking forward to Roger playing with self-belief and confidence in the grandest Slam of them all!
Of course the post wouldn’t be complete without paying tribute to the numerous records Roger broke/set/climbed up with this win, so here we go!
He set a few new records:
- This is Roger’s 6th Halle title
- This is Roger’s 13th grass court title; he broke the previous record of 12 titles which was also held by him.
- This title is also Roger’s 57th outdoor court title. He set a new record by passing Vilas who had won 56 outdoor court titles
- The Maestro’s winning % on grass courts is 121 wins to 17 losses i.e. 87.68% which is a new record breaking the previous one also set by him.
He also moved up in the record books:
- Roger now has 77 Singles titles and is tied with McEnroe at #3. They both trail Lendl with 94 titles and Connors with 109.
- Roger contested in his 112th final; this is the 3rd most behind Lendl with 146 finals and Connors with 163 finals.
- Roger has now played 1,109 matches which is the 5th most in the open era.
- With this win Roger has now won 904 matches which is the 4th most match wins in the open era.
- Roger has now won 121 grass court matches. He is at #2 behind Connors with 169 grass court match wins.
- This win increased Roger’s ATP 250 titles tally to 21. He is now tied at #2 with Roddick and they both trail Muster with 26 titles.
- Roger has now been in 28 ATP 250 finals and is tied at #6 with Moya.
- Federer has now won at least 1 title per season for 13 consecutive years from 2001 to 2013. He is tied at #2 with Connors and they both trail Lendl who won titles for 14 consecutive years.
Congratulations for your win at Halle Roger! Can’t wait to see you float across the grass courts of SW19!