Well quite a turn up for the books as Tommy Haas extended his record of having not lost a final for 10 years as he took out Roger 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in an hour and 35 minutes.
The result was a huge surprise and I thought Roger would be taking down his 75th title with ease but it just wasn't to be. Roger started well breaking early with ultimate efficiency but got pegged back and lost the first set on a tie break. Haas was playing very well, striking the ball cleanly and most points ended with Federer making an error.
The second set wasn't the best tennis but you never got the feeling Roger was on top, he didn't dominate points and even though he served first in the set, you felt like he was always playing catch up. He slipped to 0-30 on numerous service games whilst Haas was holding easily. Eventually the errors caught up with him and he lost serve at 4-4 allowing Haas to serve out the match and take down his second Halle title.
The match was really won because Haas played the more consistent tennis, he was able to hit with great depth on both wings and Roger just seemed a little rushed behind the baseline. He wasn't moving as well as he can and struggled to control any of the rallies.
How meaningful was this match?
I have to say that this match doesn't tell us a whole lot about Wimbledon or give us cause to start writing Roger off, a loss is of course never a good thing, but some Federer fans need to wake up and realise that losing in the final of an ATP Masters 250 tournament isn't a big deal. Do I need to remind you that Nadal lost to Feliciano Lopez in the Quarter Finals of Queens in 2010 only to win Wimbledon 2 weeks later? If you start basing Grand Slam predictions on the results at 250 tournaments then you need a head check. I suppose Maran Cilic is a lock for the Wimbledon final after he won Queens Club by default?
I can categorically tell you that were only ever going to be two terrible scenarios in Halle:
- Roger lost the final to Nadal – it would have been another huge psychological blow heading into Wimbledon.
- Roger lost to Raonic in the 3rd Round – it would have made him lose confidence against a young gun with a big serve and meant he only played 2 matches on grass.
But guess what?? Neither of those things happened. Roger lost to Tommy Haas, his good friend, who he leads 10-3 in the H2H, who nearly beat him the year he won the French, who has only lost serve once all week and is still one of the most naturally talented players on tour. Wow, such a terrible defeat! NOT. You only have to look at Roger's reaction and his body language in the trophy presentation to realise that he didn't really give a shit. If he won great, but if he didn't he wasn't going to beat himself up about it or start questioning his ability on grass.
If he was stood there crying and telling the press “I don't care anymore, I'm moving over to the slow grass at Wimbledon, new chapter” then by all means treat this as a painful loss – but he was smiling like he'd just won the tournament.
I knew that it would be a tough match. To begin with, I wasted a few chances, but it was still a great week for me. Tommy was the better player after that and he deserves this win, truly.
Once again, so many fans jump to conclusions and immediately assume Roger will flop at Wimbledon, simply forgetting that he's been on top form since the US Open winning 4 titles and creating even more records along the way.
Not only that we get fans that whenever Roger loses instantly attribute it to him being injured. Ridiculous. Ever think he played a below average match that wasn't good enough to get the job done rather than he was playing with a dislocated hip? To invent injuries is total conjecture and seriously annoying to read because stupid rumours like this spread like wild fire despite them having no substance.
This loss today makes little to no difference in my expectations for Roger at Wimbledon, like I said on twitter, if Roger had won Halle he'd be third favourite for it behind Nadal and Djokovic, and if he lost Halle, he'd still be third favourite behind Nadal and Djokovic. Other than 250 ranking points and another title there wasn't a whole lot to gain. He played the maximum number of matches possible and came through a really tough match with Raonic so on the whole I think it's a good tournament.
Apologies if this post is a little ranty, but we have to keep perspective here and only deal in facts, those being:
- Roger got 4 matches in on grass – great!
- He came through a tough 3 set match against a guy who served 25 aces
- He's won 4 titles this year already
- He has a chance of slam Number 17 at Wimbledon
- He's serving well
- He's injury free
- He's had a cold all week
All I can say is bring on Wimbledon! Am I deluding myself into thinking Fed will win the title without dropping a set? Nope, but I maintain he has a good chance of coming away victorious. He'll need to play well with no lapses in level but anything is possible. And trust me, if Roger meets Haas at Wimbledon, it will be a straight sets win 😉