FedExpress picking up speed ahead of SW19
HALLE: World No 5 Roger Federer delivered a masterclass to beat rising star Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-3 and clinch a record ninth Halle Open title yesterday as he lay down a marker in the lead-up to Wimbledon.
The 18-times Grand Slam champion is in ominous form and won in Halle without dropping a single set all week.
“It has been a difficult year with a lot of practice, training and rehab, so I am very happy to be back on the court,” Federer said.
“I do not know if I will ever win this tournament again, so I will enjoy this one,” said the Swiss, who has won eight Wimbledon titles.
The 35-year-old, defeated in his first comeback match in Stuttgart last week, took control from the start with an early break and kept world No 12 Zverev on his toes.
He earned a second break point with some deft volleying, which he pounced on to race through the first set in 24 minutes.
Zverev, who beat the Swiss in last year’s semifinal and has already won three titles this year, had a chance to break at the start of the second set.
But he simply could not discover a chink in Federer’s armour, even as he attempted to mix up his game by forcing the Swiss to come to the net more often.
A superb dropshot put Federer 5-2 ahead and sealed Zverev’s fate before he won the match on his first match point with a crosscourt volley.
In doing so, he became the first player to beat both Zverev brothers at the same event, having defeated older sibling Mischa in the round of 16.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova showed she will be a serious contender at SW19 after beating Australian Ashleigh Barty 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic in Birminghan, also yesterday.
The Czech, a Wimbledon winner in 2011 and 2014, suffered a knife attack during a robbery at her home in December that left her with a damaged hand.
The 27-year-old looked untroubled as she continues to recover from the injury and looked back to her best with her explosive serve often too much for Barty, as she produced 13 aces.
“I like to play finals on grass. I wish I could have more – I won’t be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon) but there is still a lot of work to be done,” she said in her oncourt interview.
“It was an amazing week, an amazing tournament. From my first hits on the grass I felt great, it was encouraging to get into the grass season.
“I came to play, to improve my game, I didn’t really have any expectation. I wanted to play my best which I showed today and I hope I can keep doing that,” she added. – Reuters