Boom! Is there a better site in the history of tennis than Roger Federer gracefully moving around a grass court? I don't think so and the matches against Raonic and Youzhny are evidence why. Roger has always been the best to watch no matter what the surface but on grass it's just the peRFect combination.
I didn't get chance to write a post last night after the Raonic match so I'll be combining his wins against the Canadian and against Youhzny to make his 105th final into this post.
Roger defeats Raonic in 3 tough sets 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3)
As I predicted this one turned into a real serving contest and for large parts of the match Raonic looked untouchable on serve. The first set went to a totally expected tie breaker and one mini break was enough for Raonic to win the set. There's really not much else Roger could have done, he served well himself and it took a huge forehand from Raonic to make the difference.
After Raonic won the first set I made him slight favourite, really for 2 reasons – his serve is effective on grass and it's only best of 3 sets meaning a match can slip away very quickly. If this was 5 I'd be backing Roger all the way but it wasn't.
After looking imperious on serve for the whole of the first, Raonic's first serve percentage dipped ever so slightly at the start of the second and Roger was able to break on his 4th attempt. Even though it was only 1-0, a break of serve in this match was so precious that it was virtually a set point. Like the Canadian, Roger had been serving very well too and he had little trouble taking the match into a decider.
The final set was still all about the serve, Roger slipped to 0-30 on a couple of service games but managed to hold and the match went into what I can only describe as my favourite tie break of the year to date. (Ok so the one against Del Potro in Dubai was pretty good too)
Rather than try and describe some of the shots Roger came up with just watch it below, the slice return and forehand pass are too good:
It was the third time in three or four months that we played each other. We know each other a bit better now,” said Federer. “But it still makes it as difficult to break each other’s serve. Somehow I had the feeling that it was going to be 7-6 in the third. I just hoped it was going to be in my favour. Of course, I’m satisfied that I came through. It was difficult.
This match was probably won with Rogers experience and patience, he was on the back foot for most of the match and struggling to make any impression on the Raonic serve but to his credit he served well himself and hung in there and took his chances. Raonic served 25 aces but still came out on the losing side so it's just testament to Rogers ability to stay in matches and not get too flustered by things outside his control.
Grasserer defeats gives Youzhny a tennis lesson
I don't think I've ever seen Roger play a match so early in a day before (in Europe) but this was definitely worth waking up on a Saturday morning for. It was pretty much JesusFed all the way through, he served awesome, the forehand was on form and his backhand slice caused Youzhny all sorts of problems.
Roger broke twice in the first set to take it down in just 21 minutes, there really was no stopping him, he had all the answers and even though Youzhny adapts well to grass and has a great single handed backhand he just couldn't handle the full repertoire of shots Roger was able to bring to the fore.
The second set went the same way and although Roger lost 1 of the breaks when serving for the match he served it out second time of asking with ease.
It was nice to come out and play some decent tennis after yesterday's shoot-out drill,” said Federer, referring to his quarter-final win against Milos Raonic in a third-set tie-break. Mikhail played a great tournament, and he deserves respect for the way he fought back in the second set.
Unfortunately for Youzhny he's just one of those guys that is likely never ever going to beat Roger, he doesn't have a big big weapon and Roger is just a class above in every department. Today was a quality performance from Fed and after Nadal lost to Kohlschreiber he's a clear favourite for the title.
Roger will now meet one of his good friends in the final – Tommy Haas. I'm sure this is a dream final for the tournament organisers, a 5 time champion loved by the Halle crowd against one of their own who is clearly the most liked by the fans amongst their current crop.
Even watching this on TV will be good I think and far better than a Fedal final because Haas plays tennis, he has a great backhand, a good grass game and will play attacking so it's bound to be quality to watch. If you're a neutral in this match then it's a dream scenario because it's going to be pure tennis and great ball striking.
Roger is clearly the favourite, he leads H2H 10-2 and hasn't lost to Haas since the 2002 Australian Open. Haas is capable of an upset for sure, he will have the crowd behind him and it's likely going to be one of the last times we see Roger and Tommy facing off in a final together so that might put the wind in his sails. I think Roger will prevail though, straight sets – 7-5 6-4. But either way I'm looking forward to it! Allez les suisse!