Federer sweeps past Zverev to claim ninth Halle title


It was a convincing statement of intent ahead of Wimbledon and a small revenge for last year when the teenage Zverev ousted him in the semi-final of the tournament.

Federer’s victory also erases the disappointment of his first outing of the season on grass in Germany when he lost to 39-year-old Tommy Haas at the Stuttgart Open.

But a week later Federer’s grass court nous appeared to be in full working order. “I played great and I felt good from the start,” said Federer who skipped the six week clay court season in order to maintain his freshness for the grass court season and an attempt to win a record eighth Wimbledon title.

“It was by far my best match of the week. After my long break, I’m feeling excellent and it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m fit for Wimbledon,” he added.

“My goal was to keep myself 100 percent for the grass season. I now hope that I’ll stay healthy in this second part of the season and we’ll see what happens.”

The match was billed as old master meets next big thing. Zverev, who beat the then world number two Novak Djokovic to claim the Italian Open in May, has won three titles this year.

The ATP – which runs the men’s tennis circuit – is marketing the German along with others such as 22-year-old Nick Kyrgios and 21-year-old Karen Khachanov – as the “Next Generation”.

However on the evidence of the Halle final and the previous five months on the tour, Zverev and co could be waiting a few more years to install themselves at the top of the tennis hierarchy. Federer claimed the first Grand Slam tournament of the season at the Australian Open and 31-year-old Rafael Nadal was imperious during his acquisition of the second Grand Slam event at the French Open.

On Sunday afternoon in Halle, Federer, who first won the event in 2003, broke serve twice to take a 4-0 lead in the first set. The partisans tried their best to rouse the local hero and the world number 12 responded to make it 4-1. But there was no comeback. Federer held for 5-1 and broke again to pocket the set in 23 minutes.

A veritable contest beckoned as Zverev carved out a break point in Federer’s opening service game of the second set. But the possibility was extinguished. Federer held and the Swiss veteran eventually captured Zverev’s serve to lead 4-2. From there he coasted home for his 92nd career title.

“I have spent a lot of time on practice, training and rehab so it is nice to be back on court,” said Federer.

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