Hey all, Halle starts on Monday and it's a fairly strong lineup for such a small tournament featuring Federer, Raonic, Haas, Youzhny, Janowicz and Gasquet. I am almost certain Nadal will pull out as he's playing the French final tomorrow vs Djokovic. Regardless of result I can't see him playing.
The draw has just been released and you can see Federer's seeded opponents below. A decent draw and I give him a reasonable chance of defending his title, anything less will be a disappointment I feel. Especially since he gave it the big “my mind is now on grass” talk in his press conference in Paris after the Gulbis loss.
If Nadal does withdraw he'll be the highest seeded player in the draw too so in all honesty he should be winning it. Of course I don't think his Wimbledon chances hinge on Halle for certain but it would be good to start building momentum.
Federer's Seeded Opponents
- 1st Round: Bye
- 2nd Round: Joao Sousa / Jan-Lennard Struff
- Quarter Final: Mikhail Youzhny
- Semi Final: Kei Nishikori / Tommy Haas
- Final: Nadal / Raonic
Thoughts on the Draw
First up is either a clay court specialist in Joao Sousa or German Jan-Lennard Struff. I'm almost certain Struff will get through that one as he's proven he can play on grass making the 2nd round at Wimbledon last year losing to Chardy in 4 sets. But to even get that far he had to get through qualifying which is a good achievement. The only thing going against him is that he hasn't got out the first round in Halle in 2 attempts, likely home crowd pressure, but this should be the perfect opportunity for him. Regardless of opponent I expect Fed to come through his first match comfortably.
After that it looks likely to be the man Federer beat in last years final, Mikhail Youzhny, who is a very competent grass court player making numerous Quarter Finals at Wimbledon. Roger owns this guy in the H2H but he's no push over so Fed will need to be on good form should they meet I think. Youzhny has to get past Karlovic in the first round though which is possibly the worst opponent in the draw for a 1st Round grass court match. I'm not sure how fit Karlovic is as he withdrew in his match vs. Anderson at the French.
Into the semi finals and the seeded opponents are Nishikori or Haas. Haas usually plays well in Halle so he would be my pick. Nishikori has had no real notable results on grass other than making the Quarter Finals at the 2012 Olympics. This surface is going to be alien to him really, he won't have played it on it growing up and because there are virtually no grass tournaments in the year he doesn't have much experience on it.
Then the finals looks set to be against Nadal, if he plays, or Raonic. I'd actually pick Raonic to come through here as he's had a decent French Open and his serve could carry him through. He ran Fed close here in 2012 too and he's much improved since then so it will be interesting to see how he plays on grass. Raonic is W3 L3 at Wimbledon so not exactly top dollar. Kohlschrieber is probably the one to look out for in that half of the draw and he beat Nadal here in 2012.
Based on the draw I think if Fed is going to lose before the final it will be in the Quarters. If he comes through that then I make him favourite to defend his title which would be the first time he's done it since winning Basel in 2010 and 2011. So it's a good opportunity here to build some momentum, break the title droubt since Dubai and defend a title for the first time in 3 years.
What do you guys think? Can Fed take down the Halle title?