Federer wins sixth Halle title

World No. 3 Roger Federer won his first title of the season, and the 77th of his career, on Sunday as he came from a set down to beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. His 77 titles see him draw level with John McEnroe in third position in the career titles list.

''I feel fit; I feel confident. I feel fit and fresh and that’s very important at this point in the season. I'm excited about what's to come now,'' Federer said. ''I'm very pleased with how I played this week. Mikhail was playing good enough to win today. No doubt about it."

The Swiss lifted the trophy in Halle for the sixth time, having previously triumphed in 2003-06 and 2008 (d. Kohlschreiber). He also finished runner-up in 2010 (l. to Hewitt) and 2012 (l. to Haas) and has a 43-5 event record.

The 31-year-old Federer clinched his 13th tour-level grass-court title, having also won The Championships at Wimbledon seven times. He will look to complete the Halle-Wimbledon double for the fifth time (2003-06) by retaining the Wimbledon crown he won last year with victory over Andy Murray.

"I'm very happy. It was a great week for me and my family," said Federer. "I thought I played well from the start and I really had to fight for it, in the semis against Tommy Haas and in the finals against Mikhail Youzhny. I think I did well today and they are exactly the kind of wins I need at this part of the season. I've been preparing well for this part of the season and I'm happy it's paying off. It's obviously important for my confidence looking forward to Wimbledon now."

Federer improved to a 15-0 Head 2 Head record over Youzhny, dropping a set for only the fourth time against the Russian, whom he beat at both Halle and Wimbledon last year.

With such a dominant record over Youzhny, top seed Federer fired at the start of the final to win the first three points on his opponent's serve. However, the Russian did not crumble as he saved four break points to move a game in front.

Federer conveyed a contrast in holds by making it 1-1 to love, but Youzhny began to improve on his serve as an ace clinched the third game and the lead once again.

Youzhny with a wide forehand was unable to convert his first break opportunity of the contest and allowed Federer to level, and the former was now starting to grow in confidence thanks to a fine winner down the line.

It was Federer who felt the pressure of playing catch-up in the set, and a double fault opened the door for Youzhny at 15-30. But, with the aid of two aces Federer quickly slammed it shut to make it 3-3.

The following four games were shared between the pair, and Federer failed to take advantage with a crucial break to lead 6-5. When Youzhny held to lead by that score line, his break point was one for the set, but with a serve out wide Federer thwarted the Russian and forced a tiebreak.

And the tiebreak swung one way and then the other as both players raised their level. Youzhny secured the mini break at 4-3 when Federer over hit a backhand and opened a two-point lead, but the Swiss rallied back to get to 5-5.

However, the momentum of the world No. 3 was halted when he hit the net, and with a second set point to his name, Youzhny clinched the set with a volley to seize the initiative.

A lapse in concentration from Federer handed Youzhny the opening set, but the Wimbledon champion erased the sloppy errors and turned into a force in the second - producing brilliant cross-court winners and not dropping points in three of his first four service games.

A run of eight consecutive points enabled Federer to break at 5-3 as he capitalised on serving first in the set, and with it Federer sent the final into a decider.

Both players were strong on their serve in the final set, but for only the second time in the match Youzhny struggled on his in the seventh game, and on the back of consecutive love services Federer pounced by digging a backhand down the line.

And with the break in the bag Federer closed out the win to get his hands on a first trophy of the season, and a sixth on the grass courts of Halle. The record 17-time grand slam champion goes into SW19 full of confidence to defend his Wimbledon title. Wimbledon starts from 24th of June 2013.

''I tried everything but Roger was just better. I cannot do anything about it. The difference was that he was better today - he's been better all his life,'' Youzhny said.

Date: 16th June 2013, Source: ATP and ESPN


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