If there is one place for Roger Federer to end a title drought,then it’s Halle,a small town in western Germany that has a big tennis stadium and a Roger-Federer-Allee leading to it.
Federer walked down that alley a winner again Sunday,ending a 10-month run of 11 tournaments without a title,an eternity by his standards.
The 31-year-old Swiss overcame a sluggish start to beat unseeded Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5),6-3,6-4 at the Gerry Weber Open for his first title since Cincinnati in August.
Returning to grass in his favorite warm-up for Wimbledon,it took the top-seeded Federer until the middle of the second set to come out of his lethargy and start hitting shots with confidence against a player he had never lost to in 14 previous career matches. It was the first final on the tour this year involving players 30 or older.
I’ve won a lot but not so much in the last 10 months,although I feel I’d been playing well, Federer said. But the others were playing better.
Federer earned his sixth title in Halle in 11 appearances (eight finals) and his first since 2008. Four of Federer’s seven Wimbledon titles have come after triumphs in Halle including his first Halle and Wimbledon championships in 2003.
The former top-ranked player,who is now No. 3,won his 77th career title. Federer will be looking to add to his record 17 Grand Slam championships when he defends his title at Wimbledon.
Federer had beaten Youzhny in both last year’s semifinal in Halle and the quarterfinal at Wimbledon,but it looked for a while Sunday that the Russian could have discovered a key to finally beating Federer,although he had to fend off four break points in the first game of his first career final on grass.
Youzhny,30,saved another break point in the 11th game,but he had the Swiss on the defensive and Federer saved a set point in the next game before holding to go into the tiebreaker. An error by Federer gave Youzhny a set point and the Russian put away a volley winner to go ahead.
Federer finally started finding his range and went up when Youzhny double-faulted at break point in the eighth game,which proved to be the turning point of the match.
The Swiss hit a perfect backhand passing shot to go up 4-3 in the third,held for 5-3 with a smash and fired a service winner to seal his victory after two hours and two minutes.
Federer has a big following at the Halle tournament and the fans gave him a standing ovation,while his wife Mirka let out a sigh of relief while keeping an eye on their twin daughters.
The difference was that he was better today he’s been better all his life, Youzhny said,referring to his lifetime losing streak against Federer.
Murray wins at queens
Andy Murray gave his fans a fright before recovering to beat Croatia’s Marin Cilic to win the Aegon Championships for the third time at Queen’s Club on Sunday.
The world number two won a rain-delayed final 5-7 7-5 6-3 to give himself the perfect boost for Wimbledon which starts in eight days.
Murray,runner-up at Wimbledon last year,suffered a painful looking slip when leading 4-3 in the first set,yelping in pain and rolling to the turf in apparent distress,and went on to lose the opener against the defending champion.
“The courts had taken a bit of a pounding this week and it’s been extremely wet,” Murray,who had a break point when he took his tumble,said on court before preparing for a doubles exhibition match against coach Ivan Lendl,in aid of a cancer charity.
It was just a bit sore on the groin area but thankfully it wasn’t too bad.
There appeared no lasting damage though as he broke big-serving Cilic in the 12th game of the second set to square the match and was always in control in the decider with his superior baseline game allowing him to dictate the rallies.
Murray also won the title in 2009 and 2011.