ATP 500HalleRoger Federer

Federer Survives Paire Pressure; Saves Two Match Points to Progress in Halle

Roger Federer is into the Halle Quarter Finals after digging in to save two match points against Benoit Paire, eventually prevailing 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) in one hour and 59 minutes to make the last eight at the Gerry Weber Open.

The Swiss had to call on his experience in the third set breaker to hold his nerve,  hitting a brave full-blooded forehand from his shoelaces at 5-6 and then managing to hit an aggressive backhand on the return at 6-7 to draw an error. Pretty clutch stuff to prevail and he's kept himself in with a shot of his 10th title in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Quick Match Recap

Fed Paire Win Halle

Paire won the toss and elected to receive. The Frenchman won the first point with a blistering return but Roger held to thirty for a 1-0 lead. Paire was then quickly level after holding to fifteen. The two then exchanged back to back holds and in game seven it was Paire who held the first break points of the match thanks to a sweet lob.

Three big serves got Roger out of trouble though and he was able to break in the next game for 5-3 as Paire's frustration boiled over, throwing his racquet around after a string of missed first serves. Roger served it out 6-3 with a minimum of fuss.

Into set two and with Paire still seething it looked like Fed would put the match to bed at 0-30 and 30-40 but Paire somehow got out of the game. That gave him some real impetus and he went onto break the Federer serve twice in succession for a 4-0 lead. The Swiss was able to recoup one break but he couldn't restore parity as Paire closed it out 6-3.

Federer served first in the decider, holding to love for 1-0 and immediately had a half chance at 0-30 but some tentative returning allowed Paire to hold. The next four service games were held for the loss of just two return points but in game seven things began to open up; with Roger getting pegged to deuce and then fashioning a breakpoint on the Paire serve in game eight which he couldn't convert. A love hold followed to put the pressure straight back on Paire and two games later it looked it might tell as the Frenchman slipped to 15-40, only to find some big serves to hold and force a tie-break.

Into the breaker and Roger soon forged a  3-1 lead but Paire fought back, winning four points in a row to gain the advantage and he held match points at 6-5 and 7-6 only to see Roger erase them with some brave play which had the crowd gasping before he finally closed it out 9-7 in the third.

Match Stats

Roger Federer Benoit Paire
Aces 7 9
Double Faults 0 3
1st Serve 63% (57/90) 58% (66/114)
1st Serve Points Won 74% (42/57) 71% (47/66)
2nd Serve Points Won 61% (20/33) 50% (24/48)
Break Points Saved 60% (3/5) 71% (5/7)
Service Games Played 15 15
1st Serve Return Points Won 29% (19/66) 26% (15/57)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 50% (24/48) 39% (13/33)
Break Points Converted 29% (2/7) 40% (2/5)
Return Games Played 15 15
Winners 42 59
Unforced Errors 25 44
Net Points Won 70% (21/30) 65% (20/31)
Service Points Won 69% (62/90) 62% (71/114)
Return Points Won 38% (43/114) 31% (28/90)
Total Points Won 51% (105/204) 49% (99/204)

Tiebreak Drama

Thoughts on the Match

Fed Paire Halle 2018

It was a very tight match, I was lucky, the tiebreakers with Kyrgios helped me physically to gain confidence, during the match I had moments where I thought, you played well in Stuttgart, it wouldn't be to bad to lose here, but then I managed to focus again.

A very close match this one that could quite easily have gone the way of the Frenchman had he managed to find a first serve on match point. But he didn't and his forehand let him down when he needed it most as Roger played with enough conviction on the match points to erase them.

It wasn't the prettiest match from Fed and I guess you could say he looked a bit lackluster on the return but overall I think he was the better player over the course of three sets. I know the fans expect peRFect tennis every time he steps on the court and as soon as he dropped a set my Twitter timeline was full of injury speculations about how he was clearly struggling 😆 didn't look like it to me but who knows. But irrespective of that, what a lot of tennis fans need to realise is that Roger Federer doesn't play tennis in a vacuum,  sometimes his opponents do have a say in how well he will play on a given day. And Paire certainly played his part in stemming Roger's free-flowing tennis today; he served well with a lot of variety and his yo-yo level of tennis didn't give Roger much rhythm of the baseline. As a result, it turned into a match where Fed had to stick it out, get a bit of luck and keep his focus to avoid defeat. Sure he could have played better by not letting his serve go AWOL in set two and return a bit more purposefully throughout but he hung in there and got the job done 🙂

Predictions vs. Ebden

Next up is Matthew Ebden who I had a feeling would do well here given the number of matches he's already played on grass this year and his come forward style causing problems as it's rarely seen on tour. I saw a bit of his match vs. Chardy in Rosmalen and he was impressive, pretty weak serve but that actually gives him more time to close the net where he's very effective.

The Aussie saw off Kohlschreiber in three sets today and he'll be bringing plenty serve & volley to the court tomorrow so it should be fun to watch. It could also be a tough match too depending on how sharp Roger is. He'll need to be moving well to make sure he's there in time to make those passing shots difficult as Ebden has decent hands. Historically Fed has done a pretty good job at rushing players who are supposed to be the ones doing the rushing so I think he'll prevail, all about keeping focus for those openings against a net rusher. Hopefully, he comes through in 2 sets.

What did you guys think of Federer's performance today? Predictions for tomorrow? 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. Roger called the match “exciting.” The word I would use is “terrifying.” I was super nervous throughout the match, and kept thinking that surely Paire could not keep up that level, and then he did. I hope that Fed’s match with Ebden is a little less “exciting.”

    1. Reminds me of a dude called Simon Sinek(founder of the golden circle) His theory on champions mentality, everytime you ask them if they’re nervous ,they say they were excited. He adds that physiologically Being nervous/anxious or exciting has the same effect on the body. Guess I am surprised Roger used the word exciting.

  2. Anyone worried about Fed getting over cooked for Wimby? Since early 2017 he’s about 2 tournaments to the good and then has either a weariness let down/ injury and / or takes a clay break.

    I’d be happy for a secret tank tomrorrow to keep himself fresh for wimby.

    1. Not worried at all. It’ll take a pretty off Fed to lose in the first week at Wimbledon and there is a week off between the final and the start of Wimby.

      1. That’s my point.

        Since his glorious “old man” return in 2017, He’s pretty much been good for winning 2 tournaments in a row and then it’s a weariness-crash or some injury or the clay break.

        If he wins Halle and Stutt he’ll have had his 2 tournament run. Winning 3 in a row would be a first in a long long time and certainly since before his return from 2016.

        He’s almost 37. Just don’t want him weary for Wimby.

  3. For the second time in the week the match will be played with only one vowel on the court. Thet es vere ewkwerd, endeed.

  4. Well,I think so many of these players who fancy their chances bring it to Fed and loose in the next round.

  5. Do you all agree with me when I say that the “old federer” before 2017 would have lost this matches but the new one often finds away to some kind of slugg him to a win. He doesnt always play great but he find a way to win. It was the same last year in a couple of masters where he saved match points.

  6. God knows who Spon is.
    Anyway,Watched the first set and thought Fed was cruising.Came back and found it was 3 all in the tiebreak.Fed played a
    great breaker but the godess of luck was there.That forehand on matchpoint looked as though it was going long.and then
    Paire couldn’t find the first serve twice on matchtpoint.But that is why Fed is Fed and Paire is Paire.

  7. Apologies to all for mad random posts.
    Now who is the Edgen Guy?Does anyone know anything about him?

  8. Hi haven’t posted for a while but have been following. Was very tense match. That’s quite an admission for RF to make ‘wouldn’t be such a bad thing to lose’ cos I’m sure as soon as you get in that frame of mind you do. Don’t think it helps him particularly that draw has cleared at such an early stage.

    1. Well Ian I don’t know that it has cleared so much.Paire was always going to be difficult because he is so
      erratic and can choke(thank God)on big points.
      Now Ebden.Have they played on grass?
      None of these people would have a chance over 5 sets but over 3 rather different.

      1. Paire is one of the most enigmatic players on tour. I try to never miss an opportunity to watch him. He has easy, clean and powerful strokes… You just don’t know when they’ll show up, just as you never know when his mind decides to take a trip somewhere else, possibly several time zones away.

  9. Hi Jonathan,
    yes really agree with your analysis of how Fed won this match.Champions win,and thats that.Following your write up of
    Ebden,I feel ,oh err!But this Fed okay.
    He will win.

  10. Watched the Aussie take out the German in style, a lot of serve-and-volleys, reliable serves and effective returns. Looks like a pretty good player on grass. Let’s hope Roger can maintain his cool, feel good mentally and physically.

  11. “Hitting a brave full-blooded forehand from his shoelaces” – best one yet J. Such great comments here from everyone.
    Yes, we are a bunch of mother hens when it comes to Roger. Has he played too much, not enough, injured?, a cold?, the kids kept him up…..
    Nail bitter of a match. I didn’t think he was going to pull that one off at all. I agree Markus, he has found a way to win many times of late when seems all is lost.
    Ebden has played a lot on the challenger tour. Hopefully, that was Fed’s “bad” match of the tournament. We expect a lot from the guy, so true.

  12. Omg. Thank goodness, in retrospect, I couldn’t watch the scores live – could have done myself a serious injury.

    “Roger doesn’t play tennis in a vaccuum” – good point and timely reminder, Jonathan. The h2h is so skewed we forget Paire actually has moments of brilliance, and if they happen to coincide with a Fed…. lull, watch out.

    I think Ebden may be another one with moments of brilliance – hopefully Fed is done with his lull.

    1. Ebden deffo going to ask Fed questions and make him come up with the pass. I think if Fed returns aggressively then he going to be fine, get Ebden volleying off his laces.

  13. Goodness what a nailbiting match, not sure my heart can take it. Its just too much. Not sure I cant handle such epic match at wimby. I hope for an easier match against Ebden.

  14. And did you guys see NK at Queens. He is yelling at his team like a maniac… this and that. Looked like he expected them to cheer and inspire him 24/7. Otherwise, no idea what his problem is. Poor mom, why does she put up with that.
    A talented player and natural athlete but…

    1. Talented for sure. But is Kyrgios a natural athlete? I’m not sure, look how fat he was a few years ago on pics. I think he has worked very hard to get in pretty good shape. But his frame is quite fragile judging by his injuries.

  15. Watched the entire match until 3/5 in the tie-break when I really needed to go plus I couldn’t watch anymore.
    If I can borrow a phrase from my native tongue to express my feelings at that moment: Roger has dug out our souls with a tea spoon.
    I was thinking “If you’re bound to lose, just lose and that’s it. Why do we have to go the distance just to see it happen”.

    My take on the match:
    I felt Roger was lagging. Like he didn’t drink his coffee in the morning or just had a different sense of time where everything moves faster than it really does.
    He reacted slowly and had frequent lapses of concentration. Few examples:
    In the 1st set he got a new racquet from the bag and it slipped right out of his hands.
    He lost the ball when bouncing it before serve a couple of times, and I think that in the second set it actually roled out of his reach and he had to ask the ball boy for a new one.
    I think that in the eighth game of the match he totally mistimed a overhead, believing he could reach a lob when he wasn’t close at all.
    Overall he played very tentative, too many slices, and he gave Paire a lot of opportunities to attack, some were capitalized but luckily not all. The match was with little pace, and I felt that many of Roger’s shot hung up in the air for a long time, giving Paire as much time as needed to crack a winner or draw an error.
    The only things that saved Roger are his service game in the first set that was very solid and his guts in the end.
    A steadier opponent would have taken the match. In a solid day Roger shouldn’t drop a set against Paire. His first two service games in the beginning of the second set were the worst I’ve seen from him in a while.

    It all joins my feeling that this year Roger isn’t as fresh as he was in the same time last year. It actually started from the Rogers Cup.
    I think that another year of age, the burden of expectations that wasn’t there when he just came back and a busy schedule besides tennis take their toll.
    This was the sixth match in eight days and it showed. I hope he finds more energy in him to take this one.
    The only big rival Roger has in this draw is himself.

    1. I agree Fed not at his best, but Paire played well, like I said the opponent does have an impact on how well you play. Even at the club levels I have played matches where I’ve won playing ‘nice’ tennis and I’ve also won where I’ve just had to hit a ton of slice backhands with no pace to prevent my opponent from being able to play their game and make them look absolutely useless to anyone watching. The same has also been done to me many times 😀

      1. No disrespect to Paire (or to your tennis skills), but I though Roger made it too easy for him in many rallies.
        He had some brilliant shots and mixed things nicely, but Roger just served bad in the beginning of the second set. He opened the door and Paire got in. So you can give him credit, no doubt, but it seemed that today’s match, since the second set, was on Paire’s racquet and he just didn’t close it out. Like Roger said after the US open that he felt the outcome depends more on the opponent and less on him. It was that kind of match.
        As I said, he seemed very tired. Obviously I havn’t seen todays match that was probably more entertaining and less nerve wracking. But I had a good day with my wife, doing a lot arrangements we just didn’t get to in the last couple of months. So it’s better that way 🙂

  16. I really have my doubts that he can sustain a high level throughout the three grass events. I wouldn’t mind he lost here and rest up for Wimby, except his draw has opened up and he really has no excuse not to win his 99th here. I don’t know. I guess he and his team know better and I’m sure they have a plan. Please, nothing comes at the cost of his #9 at the most prestigious tennis event.

    1. Ikke bekymre deg. Fed has a week off after Halle, should be fine. He can’t start tanking matches just for Wimbledon, I think it would be bad psychologically. He has already scheduled smart with goals in mind.

  17. Jonathan good write up and can see by the posts that we are a bit surprised with our man Fed, but he won
    and lives to surprise us again in a good way I hope! Some of the shots from Paire were fantastic and I found
    myself laughing because I think he is such a poser….however he wiped the smile off my face when I thought
    he could win so C’mon Roger be good x

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