Saturday, June 15, 2013

A final for Federer in Halle

Phew - I admit to feeling a great amount of relief right now after watching Roger Federer lose the first set in his semifinal match in Halle against good buddy Tommy Haas, only to come back to win it in three.  I was getting quite frustrated in the first set watching Roger dump it into the net way too many times, wasting break point opportunities, and generally just not playing as well as I had hoped.  It didn't feel like Tommy was doing anything special, just playing solid and allowing his opponent to make errors.  I wasn't feeling ultra confident that Federer could turn it around after seeing his puzzling loss to Tsonga last week.  But this is a different week and a different surface and he was able to do just that - cut down his errors, make a few more winners, and watch Haas begin to mount his own self destruction, including a surprising amount of double faults.

In spite of Roger's delicious play in his double bagel win in the quarterfinals (only the second of his career), sometimes I think the easy matches can work against him when he has to immediately go play against a top opponent.  In my low-level but frequent club level play I have seen how I can gain a lot of confidence by beating someone who is either having an off day or not as strong of a player and then in my next match play against someone where the ball comes off their racquet differently and feel like I have no answers with errors creeping in that weren't there before, so I can understand how those things can happen.  I don't like to think, however, that those at the very top have to deal with those same issues and it's frustrating to watch the level of play change so drastically from one day to the next.  And when it's my tennis hero I don't want to see the humanness finding its way in.

Regardless of the level of play, however, with certainly more errors than we like to see, a win is a win and Federer is now into his second final of the year with a great chance to claim his first title of the year against Mikhail Youzhny, who he has a 14-0 record against.  I don't think we should just automatically pencil in the win, however.  Youzhny has been playing some great tennis this week, easily beating Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-2 to get to the final.  The fact that Roger has been unable to cross this barrier of tying John McEnroe's record at 77 titles could be in his head a little bit, so I would expect it to be a tight match in the final in spite of some very convincing wins in the past against Youzhny.

Hopefully, though, it will be a happy day for Federer and his fans to be able to claim his first title of 2013, which could then propel him into a much better run for the second half of the year. 

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