ATP 500HalleRoger Federer

Federer Sees Off Ivashka in Halle Opener

The Swiss came through in 1 hour and 34 minutes to get his grass court season underway with a victory.

Roger Federer’s grass-court season is up and running thanks to a 7-6(4), 7-5 victory over Ilya Ivashka in the first round of the Noventi Open.

The ten-time champion in Halle, playing on the surface for the first time in two years, overcame a slow-ish start to outplay his opponent as he recorded the victory in 1 hour and 34 minutes without dropping serve.

Federer will next face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Quick Match Recap

federer halle ivashka

Federer won the toss and elected to receive. Ivashka kicked off with a solid hold to love for 1-0.

The Swiss quickly levelled for 1-1, but Ivashka fired down another love hold for a 2-1 lead.

In game four, a sluggish looking Federer had to save two break points en route to holding for 2-2.

With the court half in shadow, Federer again couldn’t really get a return in play as Ivashka fired down his third love hold in as many games to lead 3-2.

A comfortable hold, sealed by his first backhand winner of the match drew Federer level at 3-3, and he was able to win his first return point of the match in game six as Ivashka held for 4-3.

In game eight, Ivashka was back holding to love, but Federer wasn’t far behind as he held to fifteen for 5-5.

With just twelve points dropped on serve in twelve games, the set went into a tie break, and it was Federer who gained an early mini-break.

Ivashka recaptured it immediately, but two back to back errors allowed Federer to establish a 4-1 lead.

That was quickly 6-3, and although Federer double-faulted on his first set point, a solid volley converted the second to take the opening set.

The Swiss kicked off the second set with a hold from 15-30 to lead 1-0. Ivashka then too recovered from 15-30 to level at 1-1.

Federer finally started to find his range on the forehand during the opening exchanges of the set, pushing Ivashka to 30-30 in game four, but the Belarussian held for 2-2.

With return points still at a premium, the pair exchanged back to back holds for 4-4.

However, in the tenth game, Federer forced Ivashka to deuce and fashioned a match point. A nervy looking Ivashka saved it thanks to a net cord on a volley and then escaped the game to level at 5-5.

A speedy hold put Federer up 6-5, and thanks to more attacking intent, he found three more match points at 0-40.

A showboating backhand saw him waste the first, and Ivashka saved the second with a big serve, but a forehand error helped Federer convert the third to move into round two.

Match Stats

  Ilya Ivashka Roger Federer
Aces 8 4
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve 61% (43/70) 75% (57/76)
1st Serve Points Won 72% (31/43) 77% (44/57)
2nd Serve Points Won 74% (20/27) 53% (10/19)
Break Points Saved 75% (3/4) 100% (2/2)
Service Games Played 12 12
1st Serve Return Points Won 23% (13/57) 28% (12/43)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 47% (9/19) 26% (7/27)
Break Points Converted 0% (0/2) 25% (1/4)
Return Games Played 12 12
Service Points Won 73% (51/70) 71% (54/76)
Return Points Won 29% (22/76) 27% (19/70)
Net Points Won 80% (12/15) 79% (15/19)
Winners 28 23
Unforced Errors 16 26
Total Points Won 50% (73/146) 50% (73/146)


Thoughts on the Match

federer ivashka halle

Yes, I missed it, I haven’t played a tournament in two years on this surface. I’ve done the hardcourt, done the clay and now I’ve done the grass so it’s been great being back in Halle, I love playing here.

Just very little crowd, it’s obviously a bit of disappointment for all of us, but at the same time, like you said I’m excited to be back on the green grass and getting a win is always very nice.

You can’t compare this to the clay courts, you aren’t going to get those rallies you’re maybe looking for. You’ll get more service winners, aces, you can get your opponent guessing much more on the serve and return games, more on this surface than any other, especially here in Halle. I had a tough moment early on in the first set when he had breakpoints, so that was crucial to get out of those and I played a really good tie-breaker which I was happy about.

I think as the match went on, I started to create more opportunities and started to calm my nerves a bit and overall I think I served very well, clearly it can always be a little bit better but I’m very happy I was able to get through the first one.

Federer on his win over Ivashka

An impressive start from Federer here, and I thought it was a typical opening grass-court match from him. A few nervy moments in the opening set, but he played a good first set tie break, served well, and as the match wore, he started to find his feet.

The problem with no crowd is the match feels exceptionally flat no matter what happens, so that can give the impression the level of tennis is terrible, but in the second set, I thought Federer played well. He made more returns, got Ivashka flustered on the baseline and was by far the more attacking player.

Still, plenty to work on, and he’ll be facing far more competent grass players in the coming weeks. Ivashka gave a good account of himself, and it was only when he got tight in the bigger moments that cost him otherwise it was an evenly matched tie but Roger’s ability to press and take the ball that bit earlier proved decisive.

Final Thoughts

  • Solid start
  • Served well
  • Found his forehand range in the second set

Predictions vs Auger-Aliassime

federer aliassime

Next up for Federer is Felix Auger-Aliassime after he defeated Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets.

The Canadian came into Halle off the back of making the final in Stuttgart for a second time and although he couldn’t break his losing finals streak which now stands at W:0 L:8, it was an impressive week from him after a rather woeful clay season.

Federer has practised with Auger-Aliassime several times so will know his game pretty well and he will certainly be a danger as he’s got powerful groundstrokes.

Overall I’d say he’s just a better version of Ivashka in the first round so I expect a tight match. 

What did you guys think of Federer’s first grass-court match in two years? Let me know in the comments.


Editor of Perfect Tennis and a big fan of Roger Federer, I've spent countless hours watching and analysing his matches. Alongside playing the sport, I also enjoy writing about the tour, rackets, strings, and the technicalities of the game. Whether it's breaking down the latest tournament results or discussing the latest gear innovations, I'm always eager to share my insights with fellow tennis enthusiasts.

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    1. Thank you Jonathan – for a fast hot account. So nice highlights! I expected more slow-show as I watched the live-score along with livechat, where the remarks were a bit critical. But it probably was a bit slow besides the high moments, – still the highlights showed also for my view Roger’s surely competent brilliance, so TT can expect my happy subscribe before next round.

      1. I guess only Fed matches. Same happened in Geneva. Sadly it ended up as one match there. Fortunately that is the only option for us in India right now. Broadcasters didn’t strike a TV deal for ATP Tour which never happened in recent years. May be uncertainty due to pandemic. Good no of people follow tennis here at least in cities. Tennis TV subscription is too costly.

  1. Thanks for the write up since I missed it live. Appreciate the highlights too. As I watched Novak and Tsitsipas play on Sunday, it reminded me of how much more I like watching Fed play with his serve and variety of play, including net play.

    1. Yes, You are right Mr.Stuart. I also personally feel as to how much more like, enjoy watching Federer matches than those monotonous base line dominated matches by No.1 and other players. But Federer was not in his elements in the first set. It is understandable as it was his first match on grass after so many months. As the tournament progresses, I think, we get to watch the original Federer brand of tennis. I wish him good luck. I want him to make it # 11 here. Go for it.

  2. I’m consoling myself with at least having beaten Emerson, a rare enough occurrence in itself! But seriously, I’m a bit surprised Roger won that first set, given the disparity. I think he’d only won about 40% of the points, but I don’t seem to be able to check that now.

  3. Yes, Roger won quite a few less points than Ivashka in the first set, bit of a lucky ducky.
    Still, he won, a win is a win, excellent to have him back!
    Jonathan, have you got the net points won percentages?

  4. Korda beat Bautista in straight sets. I didn’t see that coming, thought he’d be primed and ready for grass given he lost early in Paris.

    Just shows Halle is a tricky tournament. Fed played well.

    1. Imagine his comparible statistics had Halle been a Master’s 1000 for the last 20 years. Slightly gutting to have so many on hard court and clay and nil on grass.

      1. Halle didn’t become a 1000 this year did it?

        What’s stopping it? Is it the size of the draw or capacity?

        I have no clue – but yeah – it seems ridiculous that there isn’t one single grass masters.

  5. I don’t know about you guys but I am ready to see Roger win some tournaments and get into a groove.


      1. Jonathan, what do you think of Fed’s legacy in light of what mostly Novak is now achieving? I realize this may be a post in itself, and neither guy is done yet, but let’s say all three top guys end up at the same number of slams. How do you feel Fed’s body of work stacks up given Novak’s masters count, his “double” feats, his slightly better head to head? GOAT is tough to measure, but with Roger failing to be clutch in so many of his past big matches against him, is he now second fiddle? Curious what your sense is now.

      2. I think it’s a pointless debate so no interest from me.

        I used to engage in the GOAT stuff, Nadal doping etc, but can’t be bothered now. The GOAT stuff has been an argument even when Nadal was 5 slams behind Federer. It will never be settled.

        The same fans that argued Djokovic was the GOAT even when Federer had more slams, would then say Djokovic was the GOAT as he has more slams (if he were to win 21+) so it is pointless.

        All 3 are great, and I’m sure there will be 3 other players in the future who will be even better.

  6. Could not watch live match, so thanks as always, Jonathan, for the above. Still just so in awe of Fed, Every match played without injury feels like a gift to me.

  7. I thought he looked tentative; maybe I was expecting to see it. And he would have just seen Goffin’s injury fall which was heartbreaking. I mean – first point on return after 6 games? But I also saw him putting weight on both knees, & switching back & forth between them – the wrong-foot recovery at net was pretty neat. As you pointed out, he hasn’t played an actual match on the surface in a LONG time. He had to figure out Ivashka’s game. And he did what he needed to do to get the win. Onwards & upwards!

    1. It reminded me of a typical first match on grass, has to get used to the footwork, not go pedal to the metal on the movement as you can slip.

  8. I watched it in Aus on beinsports. Finished just before 1am here. I thought Fed really upped the tempo in games 10 and 12 of the 2nd where he set up 4 break / match points. A solid performance agaimst a big server who was striking the ball cleanly. As usual some great shot making from Fed.

      1. It was rather (typically) Ivashka dropping his level on serving in TB, while being before rock solid on serve and having 2 breakpoint to Roger’s 0 (right?). Many lower ranked players have that. Playing big names they forget their whole tennis when really big points come. The same in second set at 5:6.
        That’s the privilege of having the name (well deserved).
        Fed having problems with transition from clay to grass??? Having one week for practicing on grass before Halle? Weird.

  9. Saw it live on tennis tv! Always awesome to see Roger’s serve – it looked very solid 🙂 especially after the novak-stef match … definitely needed a bit of the FedEx !!!

  10. Two most important things: one, it’s great to see him back on the grass again, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Two, he made it past the first round where the danger of an upset is greatest. He might have been a bit rusty, but that’s to be expected.

    Just hope he can keep going through the draw; the more grass matches before Wimbledon, the better.

  11. Good first match on grass. Its very tricky with shadows and court condition. Happy he is through, next match will be a lot trickier. Let’s go Roger

  12. #1 seed Medvedev defeated by J.L Struff.
    Not a real suprise.
    I said already her: A player with a good ranking (World No. 2) i not automatically a good grass court player…

  13. I was always glad there are very few grass tournaments. This means less preparation for everyone else. So it is just natural comfort that gets you through, not 20 matches . I feel that helped Federer do well at Wimbledon all these years. The flip side side is nasal and djokovic could pad their title counts and head to head…
    Love the Halle courts, the natural grass is so fast . Of course it means everything comes down to one or two points.
    Apparently nasal mentioned a foot injury in a Spanish interview and hinted at missing Wimbledon.

    Any ideas on where federer would be seeded at Wimbledon? He has lost a lot of points from Australia and now the French. It affects how hard his early round opponents are.

  14. Re prediction update.
    Aliassime is generally a lot better than Ivashka but has some mental problems on big points. That’s why his finals record is that bad.
    Assuming Fed will be able to hold his serve all over the match, he will beat Aliassime about the same way as he did with Ivashka. Both holding serves until tie-breaker or Aliassime losing his serve at 5:5 or 5:6.
    Long rallies actually don’t exist, so it should not be a (movement) problem for Fed, not needing to break the opponent’s serve but only to hold own and wait for opponent’s mental breakdown on decisive points in every set. FAA hits often double faults in deciding moments. FAA not really a danger yet.
    A bit bigger threat would come then with Struff, but Struff has the same ability to play well all the set/match and lose it on the end. Serving well and solid on grass is a must but not enough to win.
    Nobody has capabilities at the net comparable with Fed’s. Not on grass.
    Heavy groundstrokes can be a factor since QF in Wimbledon, where the opponent can make the match too long for Fed’s running capability and letting him play long baseline rallies and returning heavy strokes. Which is what Djoker made in Paris against Tsitsipas and would make for sure in Wimbledon. Some others have similar potential.
    If Federer has no knee pains and I guess, the “pains” in Kopfer match” in Paris were just for show and within a plan, he should reach SF to play (and defeat) Zverev and play maybe Rublev in the final, where some chances are, He loses it. But in terms of Wimbledon preparation it’s not important, 5 matches are five matches.

    1. … and Koepfer 😉
      Yeah, hopefully he has Thiem in the final, so he can avenge the Stuttgart loss. Thiem has 1:0 record to Federer on grass, hahaha … Thiem must only win six other matches before. And don’t get injured in first round like last time against Baghdatis.
      It’s another thing with Medvedev. Medvedev is for sure not a force in grass right now. But he can adapt quickly, like he did on clay. If he can adapt to move well on grass, the surface is good for him, because he hits everything flat and takes the ball early. He will be some time a danger on grass. Maybe not this year.
      The same Thiem. I have just watched Thiem’s matches from Stuttgart and was impressed with his game, esp. against Fed. I know, Federer was not at his best after the 2016 injury, but his hands magic is always present.
      Now nobody knows, what happens with Thiem. He has kind of closed the information door, so I don’t even know, if Massú is with him, if he trains (in the gym and on court) or only visits penguins in the zoo 😉
      But I would like to see him playing Fed. Simply to learn and maybe get his motivation back.
      And … you don’t need to be so modest with Fed’s chances. If he is fit and healthy, he is still favorite on grass. Or he gets Stakhovsky or Dustin Brown in first round (which I don’t wish him, but it’s theoretically possible).

  15. Who knows or has an idea, why is Fed choosing the third match of the day, not the prime time? I understand, it’s not about trhe crowd – the cardboard fans are there all the time 😉 So why?

  16. Why don’t they start with TB? Nothing happens out there but serving and sometimes return + winning volley from the server.

      1. I like to watch top tennis on every surface, but in this match I didn’t see what I expected.

  17. I saw the last set, sadly Federer’s first serve deserted him and he was broken twice . Maybe he was a bit worried and wanted to preserve himself, or was just too tired. He was playing a guy half his age who was serving lights out. Listen we really need to lower our expectations for WImbledon or we are set for a big disappointment.

    1. I don’t have any great expectations for Wimbledon. Never did.
      I noticed from the stats that his first serve had partly vanished – was that largely the problem? I suspect not.

    2. Well, it’s not to be expected, Fed will play someone older than him 😉 Age and injury is probably too much. And there are plenty of hard hitting youngsters. Fed does not actually look fit enough to win against top players. Hard hitting boys are his vulnerability since some years, even before Covid. Which is quite normal. Tennis has changed and even with his magics he must deal with hard shots. But how? Playing hard hitters means, he needs to generate some power himself or be able to absorb. And this is doing harm to the back, which may not be his main problem right now, but has not disappeared all of a sudden.
      Grass gives Fed the possibility to use his hand skills and brain (experience and instinct) to outplay opponents but once a hard shot comes and hits the court, everything changes.
      Maybe Fed would have more chances on clay? Not for the title but for coming deep. But what is worth for him to come deep (QF, SF)?

  18. I could only see the start of the 3rd, I assumed he would re set himself and figure things out, but he dropped service twice quickly. He started service and volleying off 2nd servers, which is murder when FAA was making good returns. He’s a fine player, good for Canadian tennis.

    As for Federer not sure what he will make of it, this will. destroy his confidence. As some have said above the first match victory came more from Iveshka predictably cracking at key moments and FAA was not going to. And the guy just made the finals in Stuttgart 4 days ago.

    Wimbledon is slower than Halle, so slower court + low bounce probably suits Fed best these days.

  19. I still think next year should be a farewell tour and play and show up for all the grand slams to at least say goodbye and thanks. He should also play some 250’s to enjoy winning and perhaps hold the overall winning record that Jimmy Connors has.

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