ATP 500HalleRoger Federer

Federer Makes Winning Start at Noventi Open

The Swiss came through the tough John Millman 7-6(1) 6-3 to win his 64th match in Halle

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

Federer 1R Halle 19

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.

Match Stats

  Roger Federer John Millman
Aces 9 2
Double Faults 5 2
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
Winners 28 10
Unforced Errors 33 24
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)


Press Conference

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Halle 1R 2019

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

Federer 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.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. Not the cleanest match, but good enough to have a safe win. Too many DF, but he will clean up his act as the tournament goes on.

      Go Roger!!!

  1. Vultures circling the blog to be first.
    As soon as Roger started playing his game with droppers and volleys it was game over for Millman. Assuming his forehand will become more consistent, all looks good on the grass. Tonga is getting his mojo back it could be a trickier match than people expect. Go bearderer!

    1. That’s grass. You cannot level it easily between matches like clay.
      Expect the same in Wimbledon.
      They should develop synthetic grass with maximum of features of live grass but without it’s issues.
      Should they play the biggest matches on a potato field only because of tradition?

      1. Someone will shout โ€œheresy!โ€ if that happens. It would be something like the catholic schism, and a funny one to watch (unless someone lights the fires).
        Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

      2. Rui,

        That’s why I cannot accept “holy” things, including “Holy Grass of Wimbledon”. Or people have some sense of humor and would prefer “semi-holy” synthetic grass before Fed getting injured or losing the Wimbledon final because of potatoes ๐Ÿ˜‰

        If they really want to be soooo conservative, why don’t they use wooden rackets and wear long pants?

    2. Halle always looks fairly beat up after the first day or two. Must be the conditions and grass. I can’t remember what their grass is compared to Wimbledon?

      Not a fan of synthetic grass. Crap for football.

      1. I think, this is the same grass as in Wimbledon, prepared by Wimbledon experts. But you can hardly change the local soil or make grass being cut for last 300 years ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I cannot tell about difference between natural and synthetic grass – don’t use them either.

        It’s maybe comparable to clay and cement. Depending on the structure it can be similar to clay or to grass and the maintenance is cheaper and easier.

        But if I was playing on clay (which is my main surface), not knowing it is synthetic but feels like natural, I would not complain about this not being “holy clay” ๐Ÿ˜‰

        What about wooden (natural) or graphite rackets?

      2. I’ve played tennis on artificial grass many times, it’s got sand on it. It’s not fun. Natural grass is the best surface for tennis.

  2. I look forward to watching the scrappy but comfortable win after reading yr report Jon! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
    5 DFs……. can we not start that again??
    The grass in Halle has always been crap. Absolutely no comparison with SW19.

  3. Indeed a good enough start, thanks Jonathan. Five DFs are two many ๐Ÿ™‚ , worried about Millman’s forceful returns at USO? Knowing that Millman’s fan has not arrived ought to be enough ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ . For the next match, it will be a good one but I am convinced that Rog will come through in a straight set victory.
    Allez Rog!

  4. I thought his serving and returns were not as good as it usually is or should be if he is to win this. But this is first round on a different surface than his previous match. His movement and net play and anticipation were awesome as usual. His shot selection and execution were a little off, but it should get better as he progresses through his section. Should be straights on Thursday.

    1. For the first match to be expected. I thought he was a bit poor moving to his right to hit the forehand but got it together in the 2nd a bit more and played a bit safer.

  5. Thought it was one break point faced at the very end?

    As you say, adjustment from clay, so given that, & the better-looking set 2, I think this is pretty good. Didnโ€™t really see any of Tsonga-Paire (except the โ€œfootieโ€ highlight when Paire dropped his racquet!), but think Roger is closer to top form than his opponent. No complacency though.!

  6. Feds volleying was superb.There was one,towards the end of the match that was just crazily good.
    Hopefully won’t take to long to shake off the clay dust and find his range.
    The Tsonga match should be fun.

  7. You are getting quickerer and betterer for recapping, Jonathan.
    Despite 5dfs, his serving kept the game under control. As Fed said in the press (the link below), he was trying to find the right power for the FHs, those erreurs were understandable for the first match on grass. Yeah, his net play was on song! While only time when Milliman being at the net was at the coin toss, said one of the commies ๐Ÿ˜†

  8. Tsonga may have some weapon. He served 16 aces against Paire. (Didn’t watch the match, only scoreboard). Tsonga is quite a complete player, bu as of late not very stable (coming back from knee injury and maybe weakened a bit by the challenge of sickle-sick anemia he has. If feeling well, he can do some damage. For sure tougher test than Millman.

    Yesterday Fed was not in a big shape (I believe to have seen – not only in him – some symptoms of cold, can have an impact on energy resources too).

    If both are healthy and in-form, Roger should win, maybe in 3.

    1. That’s a good number, his serve can be deadly when on, as Fed found out on grass in 2011.

      I think you are right about the cold. I did mean to mention it in my post but it was a bit of a rush job last night ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Coric now on the brink against Sousa. 1:1, third set starting. I can hardly believe, Sousa would be able to hold in the third – hr has some nice, energetic, fast and aggressive game, but has mostly problems with closing sets/matches. But I did not believe him to win the second, so maybe? Coric out would be some treat to relieve Fed’s cold (and nerves) ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Too bad for Sousa. He has a great fighting spirit and deserved a better fate against that pesky Borna fellow.

      1. Looks like a mental problem. Souza deserved better fate against many players, but he looks to be “designed to lose”.
        On the other side there are some “born(a)-to-win”. Thay play garbage but remain mentally not affected, waiting until the opponent is and makes the “final mistake”.
        Souza is so often failing on big points, but mostly in the final set. He fights, his matches are long, often 3 sets, he can fight back. But not in the decisive set. What’s the hell with him? Was he like this too when 10 years younger?
        Well, there is an element, of the game he misses. No aces from the pocket or no aces at all.

      2. Do you remember Rosol? I had always the impression, they both must be brothers. Or have the same coach. Or some specific gen. Fighting like lion over 3 hours anly to make 4 double faults, when serving for the match (or similar).

        I did observe yesterday a very sad beardy guy (Souza’s coach?) He was deadly sad all over the match. If this is Souza’s coach, he should look for another one. May not know anything about tennis and coaching, but damn, not look so sad all over the match, like he knew – whatever happens, Joao loses again.

  10. Cilic and Anderson out in London. Who will challenge Federer in Wimbledon??? Djokovic, Nadal and young?

  11. I think Djokovic would be the one to beat in Wimbledon and Roger would be an outside favorite to win it, not the overwhelming one. I would expect Roger and Djokovic to make the semis and maybe Nadal if he can get past the first week. One or 2 of the nextgen would be a welcome change and I hope one of them wins it for the young if Roger is not the one with the cup.

  12. The match was so close as I imagined it to be. Hard to understand why it didn’t go into final TB, suddenly losing first serve. Tsonga is not this type of a player.
    Federer’s forehand was finally sitting, and he will probably not meet such a hard hitting man like Tsonga in this tournament.
    But the Match of the day is Kyrgios vs. Aliassime, still going on and with Kyrgios feeling challenged enough to not be boring.

    1. Don’t forget Tsonga’s been out for a long time with injury: he may just be a little short on match-winning mentality when it comes down to it.

      Phew, I really wasn’t sure from the scores that Roger was going to make it.

  13. Should have won in straights, but lost his focus midway second set. Tsonga played very well and his serves were as good as they could be. Roger did well creating chances whenever he could and kept his cool and got the deserved win. Could have lost if some close ones had gone Tsonga’s way, but luckily pulls through to get more match practice on grass.

    1. Indeed.if that net cord had bounced back it would have been deuce and then who knows.
      A very entertaining match-if somewhat nerve wracking at the end.

    1. But I’m so happy that Rog had the little extra to win. It was far from a given thing. As for stats, Roger ended with just one more point than Tsonga. Also this was not a given thing.

  14. Glad Fed still made it even after his lapse in the second set. Tsonga played well but it seems Fed is starting to find his feet on the grass despite some good opposition. The match stats would be interesting … might show how close it really was … or not.

    1. Stats would tell, Tsonga should have won the match. But stats never play. On high level only few points decide matches. Sometimes luck, sometimes. Mental strength and winning ability are going to be big advantages and there are no stats for such factors.

  15. I have observed parts of many matches on grass so far in 4 tournaments.
    The grass game is going to be mainly baseline hard hitting, with classic grass players, with the game base on slice and volley rather than on topspin shots, losing their edge on the surface.

    May sound like paradox, but after also having watched lots of matches on clay this season (including Federer), I believe, it’s going to be easier to control the game with highly nuanced old-school grass game on clay then on grass.

    There was not much play at the net vs. Tsonga, not much such game between Kyrgios and Aliassime.

    Tough times coming for Fed-like players on grass.

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