Roger Federer's 17th Halle campaign is off to a winning start after the Swiss defeated John Millman 7-6(1) 6-3 in 1 hour and 17 minutes.
Making his return to the competitive courts after losing in the French Open Semi-Finals eleven days ago, the nine-time champion didn't face a single break point in the match and dropped just 11 points behind his serve en route to a scrappy but comfortable win.
Federer will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Round 2 on Thursday after the Frenchman defeated his fellow countryman Benoit Paire in straight sets in an impressive performance.
Quick Match Recap
Millman won the toss and elected to serve. Despite winning their previous meeting, the Aussie looked nervous in the opening game slipping to 0-30 but after Roger missed a fairly routine ball at 15-30, Millman held for 1-0.
A love hold put Roger level and he was again in the return game before Millman held to 30. Another speedy hold saw Roger level at 2-2 but despite making inroads in every return game he wasn't able to fashion any breakpoints.
That trend continued throughout the set, with Federer getting to thirty in games five and seven but Millman held firm and the set resulted in a tie break.
Into the breaker and it was Federer who got off to the better start, winning both his points on serve in a flash for 2-1 then taking advantage of a Millman's only double fault of the set to lead 4-1.
Two more quick points behind his own serve, including a ripper of a forehand up the line, put the Swiss 6-1 in front and he stormed the breaker 7-1.
Serving first in set two allowed Federer to apply the pressure with a hold to thirty for 1-0. Millman was again pegged to thirty from 40-0 up but held to level.
Back to back love holds then put Roger up 3-2 and he was finally able to create his first break points of the match after Millman had double-faulted on game point. The Australian saved the first but Roger created another and converted to lead 4-2.
The Swiss soon found himself down 0-30 when trying to consolidate after two loose points but recovered to hold for 5-2.
Millman then held to thirty to force Roger to serve it out and he managed to get over the line, recovering from 15-30 and saving a break point to move into Round 2.
|Roger Federer||John Millman|
|1st Serve||67% (42/63)||62% (41/66)|
|1st Serve Points Won||90% (38/42)||66% (27/41)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||52% (11/21)||60% (15/25)|
|Break Points Saved||100% (1/1)||50% (1/2)|
|Service Games Played||11||10|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||34% (14/41)||10% (4/42)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||40% (10/25)||48% (10/21)|
|Break Points Converted||50% (1/2)||0% (0/1)|
|Return Games Played||10||11|
|Net Points Won||84% (16/19)||0% (0/1)|
|Service Points Won||78% (49/63)||64% (42/66)|
|Return Points Won||36% (24/66)||22% (14/63)|
|Total Points Won||57% (73/129)||43% (56/129)|
Thoughts on the Match
First of all I'm happy I won my first round, the last few years I played Stuttgart, but this was first match back on grass. It always used to be my first match here in Halle. So you always think any way you get through is a good way. The next match will always feel different and better. Plus the threat of John having beaten me at US Open I knew he was going to be tough. Thankfully I wasn't too nervous. I had a clear gameplan, it was more difficult for him to dominate the baseline, conditions are faster here and I can control the tempo so I'm very happy. Played a good breaker, broke at the end, saved break point myself, some good moments there. Federer on his win over Millman
A 64th match win in Halle for Roger Federer and a good enough start against a tricky opponent who will go toe to toe with anyone he faces.
It played out like a typical first match on grass for Roger where it was quite a close scoreline, but he was relatively untested on serve. Not quite sure of all his shots or the court conditions but had the experience to come through.
The forehand looked a bit shaky in parts, committing 18 of the 33 unforced errors and it looked like he wasn't quite sure whether to rip it or play it safe. The result was something in between which lead to some scrappy points. I
The short turnaround from clay will have played some part in that as he's gone from taking huge cuts at the ball to having less time on it and it will naturally take some time to find his range.
However, Millman never really had a look in on the returns to build pressure and once Federer had the first set in the bag he was the one in control. Only one break point faced which is always impressive and when he was able to come forward his volleying was top notch.
Predictions vs. Tsonga
Next up is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who defeated Benoit Paire in straight sets. I expected that one to go three so it was an impressive win for Jo who's had a tough 18 months with a knee injury.
Federer leads the H2H 11-6 but it's Tsonga who has the edge on the grass with him winning their only encounter back at Wimbledon in 2011. The two haven't played since 2015 which is a long time in tennis and I'm unsure of how it will play it.
Tsonga clearly isn't the player he was and he's short of matches but he can produce patches of brilliance if he gets himself pumped up and in the zone.
Based on where both players are at in terms of matches and confidence I expect Federer to come through in straight sets. Tsonga's patchy backhand is something Roger can exploit and if he gets enough returns in play I think he has far too much in the tank.
What did you guys think of Roger's opening match on grass? Let me know in the comments.