Sunday, 19 June 2016

All German final in Germany

Roger Federer appeared to have all the pieces of the puzzle in place in readiness for him to capture his first title for 2016.  He had played a number of matches since his latest injury without any hint of concern.  He was playing on grass, the surface where he traditionally has had an advantage over nearly all others in his generation.  And this tournament was the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, one which he has made his own, and will quite possibly be named in his honour one day, such has been his dominance.
Eight titles in ten finals in the past 13 years, including winning the last 3.

Federer lost the opening set of his semi final to 19 year old Alexander Zverev in a tie breaker, and was 3-4 and facing break point more than once in the eighth game of the second set.  However once the top seed finally held serve, he rode the momentum to level the match with a 7-5 set win.
Zverev failed to honour the Swiss script though and converted the only break point available to him in the decider, winning the match 7-6 5-7 6-3.  Zverev was savage on the Federer first serve, winning 45% of the points from it.  The teenager with loads of potential had pulled off his most significant victory yet in a short but eye catching career.

The all German final that was deemed so unlikely by yours truly and most others is a reality thanks to Zverev and Florian Mayer, the latter proving too competent on grass for third seed Dominic Thiem and taking the second semi final in straight sets.
He created eleven break points in the match, compared with just one for Thiem.
Mayer is ranked 192, but has been as high as 18 and has made two Wimbledon quarter finals.

Thiem's hopes of successive grass court titles have been dashed, as too have those of Coco Vandeweghe, who lost her Birmingham semi final to Barbora Strycova.  The Czech player is 30 but is enjoying the best tennis of her long career, currently ranked in the top 30 and achieving a career high of 20 last year.  This will be her second final of 2016.
To win Birmingham, Barbora will need to defeat another American in the final.  Madison Keys has a great game for this surface and yet found herself down a set against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.  Keys levelled the match with a better second set, but it took a tie break for her to eventually prevail.  Although she lost, Carla can be delighted by her efforts on a surface where she has historically had the most difficulty.

Meanwhile, I am predicting a win here for Madison Keys and a prominent part to play at Wimbledon.  Dependent of course on consistency of performance, the only part of her game that seems to have held her back from greater feats much earlier.

In Mallorca, French player Caroline Garcia is in another final, following her fight back semi final win over Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.  Over the last month,  the 22 year old has won in Strasbourg, won the Women's Doubles at Roland Garros with Kristina Mladenovic, and now shown that she can adapt well to grass.  The future looks good for Garcia.
Her second title will come if she can defeat Anastasija Sevastova, the Latvian who added second seed Jelena Jankovic to her impressive list of victims from this tournament, following her semi final win.
Sevastova was ranked as high as 36 at the start of 2011, but retired in 2013 due to injury and illness.  This final is the high point of her comeback to tennis in January 2015.

The Queens Club final will be a battle between top seed Andy Murray, who survived a three set challenge from Marin Cilic, and third seed Milos Raonic, whose serve proved impossible for Bernard Tomic to penetrate in a 6-4 6-4 success.
Murray deserves favouritism but the a case can feasibly be argued for either player to end up holding the trophy.  Irrespective, the match promises plenty.

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