When Grass used to be Green


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A knell rung at Roger-Federer-Allee marking the first time in the last decade when Roger Federer failed to reach the finals at Halle. In a departure from tradition, Federer lost his Gerry Weber Open semi final match to Alexander Zverev 6-7,7-5,3-6. Federer played a solid game until the third set denying Zverev any chance to break but the third set was a different story and Zverev was done for the day before you knew it. The tournament saw an all-German final after five years where Florian Mayer defeated Zverev to win his first title at Halle which will lead him to rise more than 100 spots in the rankings.

Federer was well within reach in joining Nadal as the only other player to win a tournament nine times. Nadal, has achieved this feat at three different tournaments (French Open, Monte Carlo, Barcelona).

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Federer, the greatest grass court player of all time winning 15 titles on grass, has lost two successive tournaments at the Semi Final stage against budding players. Before Zverev, the last teenager to beat Federer was Andy Murray in 2006. A win against Federer on grass looks really good on Dominic Thiem and Zverev’s resume. Thiem is one of the very few players who enjoys a positive Head to Head record (2-1) against Federer (so far!).

Federer lost 320 much needed points last week. Federer’s ranking depends majorly on his performance from the second half of the season last year. Having said that, Federer needs to defend approximately 5000 points, failing which he shall experience a significant downfall in his rank. If Federer is unable to defend his points at Wimbledon (1200) and Cincinnati (1000), he will have himself seeder lower at the US Open and might have the misfortune of meeting Djokovic before the semi finals.

Roger Federer Grass Court Titles

Year Halle (8) Wimbledon (7)
2003 Won Won
2004 Won Won
2005 Won Won
2006 Won Won
2007 NA Won
2008 Won Runner up
2009 NA Won
2010 Runner up Quarter Finals
2011 NA Quarter Finals
2012 Runner up Won
2013 Won Second round
2014 Won Runner up
2015 Won Runner up
2016 Semi Finals
Spain's Rafael Nadal (BOTTOM R) and World number one Swiss Roger Federer play during an exhibition match, "the battle of the surfaces", on a dual surface court in Palma de Mallorca 02 May 2007. AFP PHOTO/ Jaime REINA (Photo credit should read JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nadal v. Federer in an exhibition match, “the battle of the surfaces

One of the most talked about topic every year, going into Wimbledon, is the Channel Slam (French Open + Wimbledon). The Channel Slam is considered to be one of the most daunting achievements in tennis as the two Grand Slams are just weeks apart and on completely different surfaces. The French Open is played on the red, slow terre battue and then Wimbledon on fast grass. Terre Battue allows the ball to move slower and bounce higher, hence making the points longer whereas grass allows the ball to bounce lower and skid off the court, making the points quicker. Only four men have been able to achieve the Channel Slam, Rod Laver (1969), Bjorn Borg (1978, 1979, 1980) Rafael Nadal (2008,2010), Roger Federer (2009). Djokovic is the reigning French Open champion and the defending champion at Wimbledon. He is the favourite to win Wimbledon and in doing so he just might add another feather to his cap.

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By the way, the last time Federer did not win Halle, he went on to win Wimbledon. That year, Federer beat Djokovic in the semi finals and Murray in the finals. So, that is a positive that I take from last week’s results. Though that seems like stretching my mind and my optimism with it.


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