Friday, June 28, 2019

Roger Federer may face Nadal in the semis of Wimbledon

If Roger Federer is to lift his ninth Wimbledon trophy at The Championships this year, he will have to hit a major milestone along the way.

The second seed, who owns a 95-12 record at The All England Club, is aiming to become the first man to claim 100 victories at a Grand Slam event. Federer can achieve that feat by advancing to the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the 13th time in his career. Federer has reached the semi-finals or better in five of his eight tournament appearances this year.

Federer enters the grass-court Grand Slam championship in fine form, following his 10th triumph at the NOVENTI OPEN (d. Goffin) last week. The 37-year-old holds a 32-4 record and leads the ATP Tour with three titles this season.

As the first man in Wimbledon history to compete in the singles draw for 21 consecutive years, Federer will meet Lloyd Harris of South Africa for the first time at tour-level in the first round. With a win, Federer would advance to a second-round encounter against Jay Clarke or Noah Rubin. En route to his 18th Grand Slam crown at the 2017 Australian Open, Federer defeated Rubin in straight sets at the same stage.

The first seeded opponent Federer could face would be 27th seed Lucas Pouille, who opens against countryman and two-time semi-finalist Richard Gasquet, in the third round. If Federer were to earn his 98th victory at Wimbledon in that encounter, the World No. 3 could meet Borna Coric in a repeat of the 2018 Halle championship match. In that final meeting, Coric snapped Federer's 20-match win streak on grass with a three-set victory.

Should Federer overcome that tricky obstacle, the 102-time tour-level titlist would find himself in the last eight just one victory away from his 100th Wimbledon win. The two players seeded to battle for a place in that quarter-final are Kei Nishikori and last year's semi-finalist John Isner. Federer owns a 7-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Nishikori and has claimed seven victories from nine FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes against Isner.

Federer successfully navigates his path to 100 victories at Wimbledon, he could face one of the most difficult tests in tennis to add to add to his tally and achieve his ultimate goal: a ninth Wimbledon trophy. From the semi-finals, the 20-time Grand Slam champion could meet Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in back-to-back matches.

In a packed third quarter of the draw, Nadal may challenge Nick Kyrgios in a blockbuster second-round encounter, while defending champion Djokovic shares the top quarter of the draw with #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

With the best record on grass in the Open Era (179-26, .873) and a record 19 titles on the surface, Federer's achievements on and off the turf will be remembered for the rest of tennis history. But a ninth Wimbledon title and a 100th match win at Wimbledon are within reach at The Championships this year and, if last week in Halle is anything to go by, Federer will be heavily motivated to write a new chapter in the history books.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Roger Federer takes home Halle title no.10 & career title #102

Roger Federer made history on Sunday in Halle, defeating David Goffin 7-6(2), 6-1 to win a record 10th NOVENTI OPEN title. It is the first time that Federer has earned 10 crowns at one tournament, joining Rafael Nadal as the only men in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.

"It’s amazing. For some reason I didn’t think I was going to make it anymore. Didn’t think of it much. I just thought match-for-match because the second round and quarters were so tough that I never really thought about how it would feel if I won and now it’s reality," Federer said. "[It’s the] first time ever I could win a title 10 times in one place, so it’s obviously a very special moment in my career."

This is Federer’s 102nd tour-level title, moving to within seven trophies of Jimmy Connors' record of 109. It is also the Swiss star’s 19th tour-level victory on grass.

Only four other active players own at least 19 titles on all surfaces combined. Federer is also the oldest tour-level champion since 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won at 1977 Hong Kong, giving him plenty of momentum as he heads to Wimbledon to pursue his ninth title at the grass-court Grand Slam.
Federer - Most Titles By Tournament 
 Halle 10
 Basel 9
 Wimbledon 8
 Dubai 8
 Cincinnati 7

No. 10 in Halle didn’t come easily, though. Federer had to battle through two three-setters in his first three matches of the week. And Goffin, who despite only winning one of eight previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against the top seed, had shown his ability to beat Federer on a big stage by doing so in the semi-finals of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

Goffin looked comfortable in early rallies, especially those of the backhand-to-backhand variety. Federer began to run around his backhand to strike forehands even more than he usually does. And at 2-2 in the opener, the Belgian earned three consecutive break points. But he missed a return and then made two straight forehand errors to let slip those chances.

And although Federer did not earn a break point in the first set, he was able to serve his way to a tie-break. The top seed then significantly raised his level, and at 3/1 he even hit a half-volley winner off a strong return from Goffin, later winning the set when the Belgian launched a forehand return long.

"He was the better player for probably the first 10 games of the match. He had more chances. He had big chances, too," Federer said. "Then I played a really good tie-break."

Federer maintained his level from there, immediately pressuring the 28-year-old’s serve to start the second set, and earning the break when Goffin dumped a double fault into the net. The World No. 3 was relentless from there, earning a second break at 3-1 when Goffin sliced a forehand long.

"I was able to run away with the lead getting the break early on in the second and I think that maybe calmed down my nerves," Federer said. "His level might have dropped just a tiny bit, but it was tough to play with the shadows, it’s a fast court. David of course also had a great week, so clearly he was feeling it from the baseline. But I was able to tough it out and at the end I was able to really play some great tennis, so I couldn’t be happier right now."

Federer is now 68-7 in Halle, and those 68 victories are his second-most for an event that is not a Grand Slam, trailing only his hometown tournament in Basel, where he has won 71 matches. In 17 Halle appearances, Federer has never failed to advance to at least the quarter-finals.
Federer - Most Wins By Tournament
 Australian Open 97
 Wimbledon 95
 US Open 85
 Basel 71
 Roland Garros 70
 Halle 68

The champion takes home €429,955 and 500 ATP Ranking points. Goffin, who was trying to claim his first crown since 2017 Tokyo, earns €215,940 and 300 points. This was the Belgian's first championship match since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

"Every time I’ve won in Halle, I went on to play really well at Wimbledon. It’s never a guarantee of course, but I’ve been on the Tour for long enough to know what it means," Federer said. "Most important is I know I’m injury-free. I’m going to have a couple of days off I guess and then get ready once I’m going to be at Wimbledon practising again. But for now I’m going to enjoy this one, rest up a little bit, and then look forward to the rest."

Did You Know?
Federer first competed in Halle as an 18-year-old in 2000. No player from that singles draw still competes on the ATP Tour. Federer’s coach, Ivan Ljubicic, and Goffin’s coach, Thomas Johansson, played the NOVENTI OPEN that year.

3rd title of 2019!

King of Grass.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Roger Federer flies into 13th Halle final

On Saturday afternoon, Roger Federer set a NOVENTI OPEN tournament record. And by doing so, the top seed will have a chance to make personal history on Sunday.

Federer defeated Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-3 to reach his 13th final in Halle, the most in the ATP 500 event’s history. The World No. 3 will face David Goffin in the championship match, an opportunity for the Swiss to claim his 10th title here. If Federer accomplishes the feat, it will be the first time he has lifted 10 trophies at a single tournament.

"It’s great. I thought it was a very solid performance from me," Federer said. "I didn’t struggle on serve and [when] I had my opportunities on the return, I was able to take them."

The 101-time tour-level titlist also has an opportunity to move closer to Jimmy Connors’ record of 109 tour-level trophies. If Federer emerges victorious against Goffin, it will be the 16th time he has claimed at least three tour-level crowns in a season.

Federer, now 67-7 in Halle, had to battle through two three-setters to make the last four. But playing Herbert for the first time, Federer broke serve three times and did not face a break point, winning 88 of his service points en route to a 62-minute triumph.

"I was able to find some good energy today, especially in the important moments, because the past couple days have been tough," Federer said. "It’s been a lot of tennis, so this is maybe exactly what I need going into the final."

Federer set the tone by breaking in his first return game of the match, and he never looked back from there. It is the first match this week in which the 37-year-old did not face break point.

Herbert, the No. 43 player in the ATP Rankings, typically plays the role of the aggressor, trying to move into net and use his strong volleying to take points into his own hands. But Federer used a dagger-like backhand slice at times to bring the Frenchman into the forecourt on the Swiss' terms, making it more comfortable for Federer and less so for Herbert.

The top seed takes a lopsided FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead of 7-1 into the final against Goffin, including a straight-sets victory here in Halle three years ago. In Federer’s seven victories against the Belgian, Goffin has won a total of one set. But the 28-year-old earned one of the biggest wins of his career by upsetting Federer in the semi-finals of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

"He’s a great guy. I really like his game. He’s got one of the best backhand in the game. [He is] super fast on his feet and he’s got great footing on a court that’s really difficult," Federer said. "He played a great match against Berrettini today to stop his run and also against Zverev. I watched that match and that was mighty impressive. So I think I’m going to have a tough final, anyway at this stage, but particularly against David, who I have a lot of respect for."

Federer’s current record for most titles at a tournament is nine, having earned that many crowns at both Halle and Basel, his hometown event. The Swiss has advanced to 14 finals at that ATP 500 tournament.

Did You Know?
Herbert was Federer’s 337th unique singles opponent. Although they both have played more than 200 tour-level doubles matches, they have not competed against one another on the doubles court, either.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Roger Federer into 15th Halle semi-final after defeating Bautista Agut

Five years ago, Roger Federer asked Pierre-Hugues Herbert to practise with him at the NOVENTI OPEN when the Frenchman was just starting out on the ATP Tour. On Saturday, the Swiss will see Herbert across the net as a semi-final opponent.

The top seed weathered an inspired effort from Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut to prevail on Friday 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Swiss improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Bautista Agut to 9-0. Federer is through to his 15th Halle semi-final and is two matches away from his 10th title here, which would mark the first time he’s reached double digits in titles at an ATP Tour event.

”He’s a top player and he has beaten top guys before, played good at big events, gives the best players a hard time and beats them sometimes. You’ve got to expect him to come out there and play a tough match,” said Federer. “He’s able to stay in the rallies on the grass court and he has a very dangerous forehand. I’m not surprised about the tough match and enjoyed the battle.”

Saturday's semi-final will mark his first meeting against Herbert, who defeated defending champion and fourth seed Borna Coric after the Croatian retired due to injury. Coric conceded defeat after Herbert won the first set 7-5.

"It was a dream come true," said Herbert of his 2014 grass-court hitting session with Federer. "As a kid, I’d watch him and imitate his strokes. So practising with him, having fun and actually when you practise with him, he spoke and was interested in me. He asked a dozen questions about me."

Federer came out swinging in the early stages of the match, breaking Bautista Agut to love in the opening game with a forehand winner. Hitting his shots with pinpoint accuracy, Federer dropped just two points on serve and broke the Spaniard for a second time at 5-3 to grab the early advantage.

Bautista Agut refused to go away quietly. He increased his pace in the rallies and began to gamble successfully on passing shots and timely trips to the net. The strategy paid off and the extra pressure caused Federer to leak more unforced errors. Bautista Agut grabbed a break of serve to lead 2-1 in the second set and rode the slight advantage to force a decider.

A running forehand passing shot gave the Spaniard a break point in the opening game of the final set, but Federer saved it with a forehand winner of his own. Showing more emotion than is customary for the mild-mannered Swiss, he willed himself to a higher first-serve percentage and better form from the baseline in the closing stages.

But it was Bautista Agut who handed the match to Federer in the final minutes. Serving at 4-5, 15/0, the Spaniard hit four consecutive unforced errors to end play after one hour and 54 minutes.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Roger Federer passes Tsonga test reaches 17th Halle quarter-final

Roger Federer held off some of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's best hitting to reach his 17th NOVENTI OPEN quarter-final on Thursday and keep alive his hopes for a record-extending 10th title in Halle.

Federer advanced past Tsonga 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 in another high-octane contest between the two veterans who both hit their full strides at times inside Gerry Weber Stadion. Federer now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 12-6.

Tsonga had beaten Federer during their only prior grass-court meeting, coming back from two sets down in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals. But the Swiss started well and looked to be en route to another straight-sets win in Germany after he converted his third set point in the opener and broke to start the second.

The top seed ran around a Tsonga second serve and belted an inside-in forehand winner down the line to gain the set and break lead. He was at his aggressive best all match, coming forward often and ending the point with swinging volleys. Federer won 16 of his 27 trips to the net (59%).

But Tsonga found his characteristic big groundstrokes in time to break in the sixth and 10th games of the second set, punishing forehands that Federer couldn't handle at net. The two were on serve until the 11th game of the deciding set, when Federer, as the fans screamed for the nine-time champion, raised his level to break once more. He ended their 18th contest with his seventh ace.

The Swiss will next meet Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist (2007, 2015) Richard Gasquet of France 6-1, 6-4. Federer is 8-0 against Bautista Agut, which includes a straight-sets win at 2015 Wimbledon, their only grass-court encounter. Bautista Agut has won only one of their 19 sets.

Did You Know?
Only 23 men in 20 years have beaten Federer on grass and only two have done so from two sets down at Wimbledon (2-78). Tsonga belongs to both of those clubs.

Another one of those 2 close for comfort matches, but definitely the type of test he will need heading into Wimbledon. Would have been more straight forward if he hadn't let that 3-1 lead slip in the 2nd set. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Roger Federer gets Millman revenge in Halle opener faces Tsonga next

Nine-time champion Roger Federer played steadily enough to start his grass-court season on Tuesday at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle.

The 37-year-old Swiss avenged his 2018 US Open fourth-round loss to John Millman to make the second round in Germany, beating the Aussie 7-6(1), 6-3.

“I always think any way you get through is a good way because the next match will always feel different,” Federer said.

He didn't face a break point until he served for the match, and he saw only two on Millman's racquet, both in the sixth game of the second set, when Millman hit a forehand off his back foot long to give Federer the break. The top seed fell behind 0/30 in the next game but escaped danger by winning four straight points.

“I think with... John having beaten me at the US Open, I knew it was going be tough. So thankfully I wasn’t too nervous. I think I had a clear game plan. I knew that it was going to be more difficult for him to dominate the baseline... Conditions are faster here so I’m able to control the tempo of the match a little bit more,” Federer said.

The 101-time tour-level titlist is making his 17th Halle appearance and is trying to secure his first double-digit title haul at a single event. He has also won nine titles at the Swiss Indoors Basel, his hometown tournament. Rafael Nadal is the only man in the Open Era to reach double-digit titles at a single event, with 12 Roland Garros titles and 11 trophies in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.

Federer will next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat countryman Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 to improve to 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Federer leads his rivalry with Tsonga 11-6, but the Frenchman has won their past two matchups – at 2016 Monte-Carlo and 2014 Canada. The two have played on grass only once, a five-set win for Tsonga in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff picked up his first win at his home ATP 500 tournament (1-6), beating Serbian Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-4. Struff, playing at a career-high No. 35 in the ATP Rankings, improved to 22-14 this season and will next meet third-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov.

France's Richard Gasquet, a three-time grass-court titlist, won 81 per cent of his service points and beat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4 in only 70 minutes. Gasquet will next play seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard didn't face a break point and beat American Taylor Fritz 7-6(10), 6-0

Monday, June 17, 2019

Roger Federer feeling the pressure as grass season is about to begin

Despite topping the list for most trophies on the surface, 18-time grass titlist Roger Federer admitted the short nature of the grass-court season provides a unique challenge ahead of the NOVENTI OPEN.

"The pressure is high for me too. The grass-court season is extremely short," said Federer. "There is not that much I can do to get into it as well, other than have that point-for-point mentality. [My] focus needs to be crystal clear and that is what I need to have from the get-go here as I play John Millman in the first round, who has been a tough one for me in the past."

Fresh from his semi-final run at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal), the World No. 3 will face extra pressure in his opening match on the surface this year against Millman, as the Aussie stunned Federer in four sets in the fourth round of last year’s US Open.

However, Federer is a nine-time champion in Halle. Also a nine-time Swiss Indoors Basel titlist, Federer has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his previous 16 appearances in Halle and will be keen to go one step further than his runner-up finish to Borna Coric last year. Federer owns a 9-3 record in Halle championship matches and a 63-7 tournament record.

"I think I look back [down] memory lane a little bit [here]," said Federer. "I see how many good moments I've had here, I see how much success I've had... The fan interaction [is special]. I feel like we know eachother, they know what they get from me and I know what to expect from them. It makes me feel really good and makes me play good tennis."

Federer arrives in Halle after competing on clay for the first time since 2016. The 101-time tour-level titlist reached quarter-finals at ATP Masters 1000 events in Rome and Madrid, before a semi-final run at Roland Garros.

"I feel great, to be honest. I am happy to be on the grass, regardless of if I played good or bad on the clay, or if I didn't play at all," said Federer. "I always feel happy coming to this surface and this part of the season. I have always loved playing here in Halle for so many years. This is my 17th time playing this event."

Due to his participation on the European clay, Federer's grass-court preparations have been abbreviated in comparison to 2017 and 2018. In the past two years, the Swiss returned to action a week earlier at the MercedesCup following a three-month break after the Miami Open presented by Itau.

"Compared to [the past] few years, I have had much less time to prepare for the grass-court season," said Federer. "Not having played the clay before [in 2017 and 2018], I had plenty of time. So, I don't want to say I feel stressed, but the transition was definitely faster than in the past few years."

But Federer's efforts on the red dirt have given the World No. 3 plenty of reasons for positivity. The nine-time Halle champion notched nine wins from 11 tour-level encounters on the surface, with his only losses coming against Dominic Thiem in Madrid and Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

"I was really positive about my clay-court swing. I lost against the best clay-court player ever [at Roland Garros], so there is no shame there," said Federer. "I tried everything I had and [we played in] unbelievably windy conditions. It was really challenging. I loved it actually, to play Rafa in that situation, the way it was. But I left [Paris] very positive."

With a new surface, there is a new challenge. But there aren't many challenges more familiar to Federer than playing on grass. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who owns an 87.1 per cent win percentage on the surface (176-26), shared his thoughts on how grass elevates his game to new heights.

"[Grass] highlights my strength and it maybe hides my weaknesses," said Federer. "From that standpoint, I can play how I want, on my terms, how I would like. When you feel that way, it is maybe what Rafa feels on the clay... I have all the options and when you have options, it gives you options to win and different tactics you can use against different players. That gives you maybe that little bit more margin you need to stay out of trouble and win matches."

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Roger Federer faces tough draw in return to Halle

Roger Federer will have the chance to gain revenge in his opening match at next week's NOVENTI OPEN in Halle.

The nine-time champion's campaign for a 10th title at the ATP 500 event will begin against John Millman, the man who ended his 2018 US Open campaign with a gruelling four-set victory under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Federer will be looking to add to his 63-7 record at the grass-court tournament, following an impressive run to the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Nadal). The World No. 3 is aiming to lift his first title in Halle since 2017, after losing to Borna Coric in three sets in last year’s championship match.

If Federer overcomes Millman for the second time in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, his path to the trophy does not get any easier. The 37-year-old would meet former World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or in-form Frenchman Benoit Paire in the second round.

Tsonga has defeated Federer in six of their previous 17 FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, which includes a five-set comeback victory in their only previous clash on grass at Wimbledon in 2011. Paire also arrives in Halle in good form, after winning two ATP Tour titles on clay this year in Marrakech (d. Andujar) and Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime).

Federer shares the top quarter of the draw with seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut and former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. Bautista Agut has reached the quarter-finals or better in both of his previous two appearances in Halle, while Gasquet owns three ATP Tour trophies on grass, including last year's Libema Open title (d. Chardy).

There will be no repeat of last year's final after defending champion Coric landed in the same half as Federer. The World No. 14 dropped only one set en route to the title last year, which included victories against Federer and second seed Alexander Zverev. Coric opens against Jaume Munar of Spain and headlines the second quarter of the draw alongside fifth seed Gael Monfils.

Second seed Alexander Zverev will meet Robin Haase in his opening match. The two-time runner-up (2016, 2017) will be hoping to earn his first win on grass this year after falling in his opening match at the MercedesCup to Dustin Brown in three sets. Zverev is joined in the bottom quarter by eighth seed Guido Pella, David Goffin and 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The third quarter of the draw sees third seed Karen Khachanov and sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili open against players who have enjoyed success on grass. Khachanov will meet last year's Turkish Airlines Open Antalya winner Damir Dzumhur, while Basilashvili will face MercedesCup finalist Matteo Berrettini.

Friday, June 07, 2019

'Fedal' chapter 39 ends with same result at Roland Garros (thank god clay season is almost done)

Roger Federer has played 1,472 ATP Tour matches and faced hundreds of opponents throughout his 21-year career. But after his Roland Garros semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal, his sixth to the Spaniard at this event, he admitted his clay-court battles against the 11-time champion are unmatched in difficulty.

“He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay. There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him,” said Federer. “I don't even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him. It's just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.”

The Swiss star powered into the semi-finals for the first time since 2012. Competing with a larger racquet head for the first time at the second major of the year, Federer’s backhand had more bite than in previous visits and allowed for even greater success in rushing the net. He won 127 of 175 net points (72.6%) in his first five rounds and went to the net 60 times in his quarter-final victory over Stan Wawrinka.

But Federer’s trips to the net on Friday had two things working against him. Not only does Nadal love a target, but brutal winds topping 39 miles per hour slowed his approaches and enabled the Spaniard to comfortably rip passing shots. Federer won just 17 of 35 net points on the day.

“You get to a point where you're just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous. It's that bad,” said Federer of the swirling winds. “There is also no way to practice in these conditions. It's all a mindset. It's footwork…It was difficult, but I accept that. He played in an incredible way. He has incredible abilities on clay. I knew that ahead of time.”

Despite the loss, Federer can consider his clay-court season a success. Before the start of the clay season, the Swiss admitted being unsure if he remembered how to slide on the surface after not competing on it for three years. He finished it with a 9-2 record, only losing to Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Federer also amassed 1,080 ATP Rankings points during this stretch, cementing his position at No. 3 and moving him closer to catching Nadal at No. 2.

The always vocal Parisian fans showed their appreciation at having the chance to watch Federer for the first time since 2015, showering him with even more adoration than he typically received over the years on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The love from the crowd made the 20-time Grand Slam champion hint that his return to clay will become a staple in his final years on tour.

“I thought it was a great tournament. I really enjoyed it. Crowd support couldn't have been better. Maybe one of the best ever in my entire 20-year career that I have been on tour at a Grand Slam,” said Federer. “They were always there for me, supporting me in practice, at the matches, on the grounds whenever I came and showed up. They were always happy to see me. So that was nice.

“I think I surprised myself maybe with how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout. Next year, just like with any other tournament, I don't know. We'll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and [Roland Garros], so that would help the chances to return to the clay. It's not like it's been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it's okay.”

Since I hardly had any expectation of him actually winning this, I'm ok with the result.

In fact I want to copy and paste some excellent bullet points made by one of my favourite tennis bloggers.  :

Federer on clay 1) got match fit and didn’t get injured (as far as we can tell), 2) played pretty well from the baseline on a surface he hasn’t been on for 3 years, 3) made the friggin semifinals! 4) looks pretty good for grass season.

I do have to add that the organization and treatment of scheduling for this event has been horrendous. Especially for the women, who were treated extremely disrespectfully through out. Not putting a women's semi on center court?. Really?. Just ridiculous.

I am rooting for Dominic Thiem I think this might be the year he shakes things up right to the very end.

This whole tournament has just reaffirmed why it continues to be at the bottom when it comes to favourite slams for me.

I'll take the other 3 slams any day of the week thank you very much.

I'm so ready to move on to the grass of Wimbledon, where Mr. Federer remains the king. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Roger Federer wins the battle of the Swiss sets up 39th meeting with Nadal in the semis at Roland Garros

Roger Federer is competing at Roland Garros for the first time in four years, but it certainly hasn’t seemed like it this fortnight.

After a rain delay that lasted more than an hour, Federer surged past fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in three hours and 35 minutes Tuesday, advancing to the semi-finals on the Parisian terre for the first time since 2012.

Federer seized early control against former World No. 3 Wawrinka, but the mishits and missed opportunities began to pile up for the 2009 titlist, as he suddenly was two Wawrinka holds away from going down two sets to one. But Federer remained calm and regained the momentum during the roller-coaster match by winning a crucial third-set tie-break, only for the adrenaline to wear off as threatening clouds sent the compatriots off the court.

Instead of faltering, though, Federer earned his second break of the match when they returned to court and after saving a break chance, punched a forehand volley into the open court to become the second-oldest man to make the semi-finals at Roland Garros, trailing only Pancho Gonzales, who was 40 in 1968.

Federer will next meet his greatest rival, 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, for the first time since 2017 Shanghai. They were set to battle in the semi-finals of this year’s BNP Paribas Open, but Nadal withdrew due to an injury. Their 39th FedEx ATP Head2Head clash (Nadal leads 23-15) will be their first on clay since 2013 Rome.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Federer’s quarter-final victory came against Wawrinka, who ousted him in the last eight four years ago in straight sets. Federer now leads his good friend 23-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, but entering the match the 37-year-old only had a 4-3 advantage on clay.

The third seed struggled converting break points, winning just two of 18 in the match, as Wawrinka consistently was aggressive to take matters into his own hands. But Federer held his nerve in the tie-breaks, dropping only two combined service points in both of them.

At the start of the match, Federer was cruising along on serve, using variety on the backhand side — going big, finding the short crosscourt angle, and varying the rhythm of rallies with a short chip — to play on his terms. But the 101-time tour-level titlist missed out on his first eight chances of the match as Wawrinka showed no fear in going for it under pressure.

Federer vs. Wawrinka Stats
Winners 53 54
Unforced Errors 49 61
Break Points Converted 2/18 2/5

Those missed chances nearly came back to haunt Federer, as Wawrinka, the three-time Grand Slam champion, converted his first two break points, using the first to win the second set and the next one to take a 4-3 lead in the third set. Suddenly, Federer began to mishit shots as he fell further behind the baseline, and Wawrinka added even more juice to his powerful strokes to overwhelm his compatriot in rallies and put more pressure on the World No. 3 to go for more from tougher positions.

But Wawrinka, who needed five hours and nine minutes to win his fourth-round match against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, finally cracked at 4-3 in the third. In the seventh different game in which he faced a break point, the No. 24 seed decelerated on a low forehand approach shot near the service line, and the ball sailed well long to allow Federer back on serve.

And from there, Federer began to find his service rhythm and work his way back into rallies again, throwing in more drop shots and using a timely stretch backhand drop volley in the ensuing tie-break to take the lead before closing out the third set.

When the Swiss stars returned to Court Suzanne Lenglen at 3-3 in the fourth set, Federer made clear his intentions to run around his backhand to hit forehands on second-serve returns, after missing many backhand returns long earlier on. And that strategy paid dividends, as he broke for 5-4, before saving a break point with a reflexed drop volley and serving out his victory. Federer is the oldest major semi-finalist since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

Wawrinka, who earned his 500th tour-level win with his second-round triumph against Grigor Dimitrov, was pursuing his fourth Roland Garros semi-final. The 34-year-old underwent two knee surgeries in August 2017, and he has been battling his way back into form ever since, falling as low as No. 263 in the ATP Rankings last June. Wawrinka will return to the Top 20 next Monday.

Did You Know?

Federer had not won a best-of-five-set match that went longer than three sets since the 2018 Australian Open final, when he defeated Marin Cilic in five sets.

Hasn't played on clay in 4 years and he gets to the semis of Roland Garros. Only Roger. Although I must say my hopes were dwindling with every break point conversion missed. 

That is something he'll have to do a 100% better when he's facing Nadal, because he will definitely not be giving him 18 chances to break.  

I thought he was pretty much a goner when he went down a break in the 3rd, but he managed to turn it around. 

If I thought the match he just won was a nail biter, this next one is sure to send me into cardiac arrest. I may need to buy some alcohol and drink it at 8 am  to get through this one. 

The good news for Rog?. He has beaten him the last 5 times they played. 

Bad news?. 

None of them were on clay. But those wins will definitely give him confidence none the less. 

What a French Open this is turning out to be. Bring it on!. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Roger Federer into the quarters of Roland Garros will face Stan Wawrinka in the battle of the Swiss

For a self-described “outsider” at Roland Garros, Roger Federer sure has been playing like one of the favourites in Paris.

The third seed won his 12th set in a row on Sunday, beating Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final in 11 months (Wimbledon, l. to Anderson) and return to the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the first time since 2015, the last time Federer played at the clay-court major.

“Big serving, windy, it was tough conditions... I think when it's this kind of conditions, it's fast, it's swirly, especially the one side, you have a lot of wind in your back. It's like you're serving from sort of a tree, from a mountain, and from the other one you feel like you're playing up the hill,” Federer said. “[It's] important it's focused there and I did that well, and I'm very pleased with the game.”

The Swiss is through to his 12th Roland Garros quarter-final and 54th overall at a Grand Slam, the latter of which extends his record.

At 37 years 305 days, Federer is also the third-oldest man to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garrosin the Open Era. The 2009 titlist will meet Stan Wawrinka or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last eight. Wawrinka beat Federer in the 2015 quarter-finals en route to the Roland Garros title.

Mayer trailed Federer 0-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the two had never played on the Argentine's favourite surface of clay. and Mayer held five match points against Federer during their 2014 Shanghai meeting. But during his return to clay this year, Federer has looked as comfortable as anyone, a trend that continued on Sunday.

The Swiss broke in the opening game with a backhand winner down the line, and the fist pumps flowed from there. Federer converted five of his 10 break points and never faced a break point on his serve.

Federer lost to Tsitsipas, the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, in the Australian Open fourth round, but Federer evened their FedEx ATP Head2Head series with a straight-sets win in the Dubai final for his 100th title.

“I would definitely have to look back into how Stefanos plays on clay. Obviously he returns from further back, he's not so far in. But he moves very naturally on the clay surface. So he's coming in with tons of matches, as well, in the year but also on clay, with a great win against Rafa in Madrid,” Federer said.

“So I'm expecting a tough match. He's got the options to serve and volley. I saw him doing that in Monte-Carlo against Medvedev, but then also he's happy to rally from the baseline. He can figure it out, depending on the conditions. I'm hearing it's going to be maybe raining, 20 degrees on Tuesday. That's going to anyway put some adjustments on to all the players playing on that day.”

Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Wawrinka 22-3, but all three of Wawrinka's wins have come on clay: 2015 Roland Garros and 2014, 2009 Monte-Carlo.

“On clay, it's been definitely more dangerous than on any other surface for me against him,” Federer said. “I hope he's not at the level of '15, but we'll find out, because there he was crushing the ball. It was unbelievable.”

The big question will be how much Stan has left after his 5 hour 9 minute marathon with Tsitsipas, especially if it goes another 5 sets. 

But let's not think about that just yet, and enjoy the fact that he's into another Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros no less. Without losing a set. Well done Rog!.