Round 2 – June 21, 2018
My first time at the Gerry Weber Open tennis in Halle, a tournament I followed on German TV since I was a child. The stadium is beautiful and the facilities are perfect. The grass looked of way less quality than the grass in Den Bosch the week before. Many brown spots and somewhat slippy. The roof was closed as a couple of showers poured down on the hills of Westphalia. Some Federer fans were begging for tickets at the entrance. Surely I wasn’t selling mine. And those who kept their tickets were in for a treat!
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Rough start for Ebden who had a pretty good run recently on grass in Den Bosch. Kohlschreiber was solid in the first set and took an early break. In the second set, Philipp somehow completely lost it, producing many unforced errors. Matthew picked up speed, served well and had some good attacking points from the baseline and net. He took the second set 6-1 in less than half an hour and never looked back, comfortably winning the final set 6-2.
Borna Coric is currently my favourite player. He is talented, plays with intensity and has an amazing desire to win. A good athlete, too. Borna played impeccable today, serving well and returning almost everything that Nikoloz Basilashvili hit at him. Coric hit very few unforced errors and attacked whenever possible. Basically Coric was so good that I marked him as an outsider to win the tournament, which he actually did. Nikoloz Basilashvili did whatever he could but he just ran into a Croatian wall.
The third match on Centre Court was Federer against the unpredictable Paire. It turned out to be a thriller! After set 1 everything ran smoothly for Federer. He broke serve once for a 6-3 win, after which Paire’s racket bounced around a bit. But the nonchalant aired Frenchman regained mental focus and pulled off some magic. Benoit hit brilliant dropshots, lobs, winners and even got lucky with net balls. But above all: he served strong. Roger’s game was in disarray and he fell behind quickly in set 2. Federer got a break back, but Paire took the set 3-6.
In the third set Paire killed two match points at 5-6, 15-40. The spectacle that this match had become unfolded in a tiebreak. In which this time Federer faced two match points. On one of them, Roger hit a weird forehand curve ball right on the line and Benoit mishit the response. Federer clinched the 9-7 bizarre tiebreak win after an unforced forehand error from Paire, much to the delight and relief of the many fans. I was pretty sure Federer was going to lose this one but he miraculously escaped!
Final match of the day, final match for Mayer at this tournament. Not only because of the loss but it’s his farewell tour before he retires. The stadium was half empty after the almost two hour Federer – Paire thriller before this one. A surprise winner in 2016 (his biggest success), Florian could not get past the rock solid Andreas Seppi, who put the pressure on early and got rewarded with a straight sets win.