Roger Federer has won the Gerry Weber Open for a record eighth time, beating Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 in Sunday’s final.
The Swiss has used the Halle venue as a springboard for Wimbledon glory in the past, and although Seppi was an obdurate opponent here, at precarious moments in the match, the 17-time Grand Slam champion boasted a composed, clinical aura.
As we can see here, courtesy of the ATP World Tour Twitter feed, the two men spent the evening before the final together at a local fashion show:
But any amicable feelings were set aside as this one got underway.
The Italian has been a little fortunate en route to the final, progressing at the expense of Gael Monfils and Kei Nishikori, with both players suffering injuries and subsequent retirements. He more than held his own in the opening stages, though, as the opening six games went with serve.
It was engrossing early on, but rain threatened to sap the momentum from an enjoyable match as both men ducked for cover. However, as by ByTheMin Tennis noted, the technology in Halle ensured we weren’t short of action for long:
Federer took a while to get going after the short delay. Seppi managed to conjure a break point, but he was unable to capitalise as the Swiss leveled things up at 4-4. The Italian then backed up another comfortable hold by earning himself two more break points on the Federer serve, but the reigning champion recovered to fend off the set points and level things up again.
Nonetheless, as Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times noted, the Italian was looking like the better player after the rain break:
But there was also a sense that against a player like Federer, you need to be clinical. As a tiebreak began to settle the first stanza, that became even more apparent as the Swiss coasted into a 4-0 lead. Seppi never recovered, as Federer took the breaker, 7-1, and the first set to boot.
As TennisNow pointed out, the Swiss’ record in tiebreaks has been immaculate during the tournament:
After such an even set, it was a body blow for Seppi to be down in the match. Nonetheless, he began the second set well, prising out another break point in the fifth game with the set on serve. Federer was able to save it once again, though, and at this juncture, the Italian was becoming noticeably frustrated at his failure to take hard-earned chances.
By contrast, Federer seemed his usual relaxed self, as we can see here, courtesy of TennisTV:
Seppi shouldn't have been too downhearted, though. He'd yet to concede a break point in the match, was matching Federer in general play and was pushing the Swiss hard on his own serve. But he seemed to lose some intensity as the match rumbled on.
The Swiss did have the chance to break, eventually, in the seventh game of the second set, carving out three points. But Seppi again showed his durability, saving them all and making it 4-4. Sadly for the Italian, the shift in momentum was a sign of things to come.
A hold to love from Federer deflected the heat right back onto his opponent, going just one game away with the score at 5-4. Seppi was looking jaded at this point, and when Federer pressured him into conceding two match points, the result was an inevitability, as the Swiss closed out the set, 6-4, to secure his eighth Halle crown.
Federer admitted afterward that this competition is very meaningful to him, per LetsTalkTennis:
As Rothenberg highlighted, this tournament is Federer's most prosperous of all:
Now, Federer’s attentions will turn to Wimbledon and his pursuit of a first Grand Slam title since 2012. The 33-year-old was pushed pretty hard in Halle this week, and subsequently, the seven-time SW19 champion should rock up at the tournament battle-hardened.
After disappointment at the French Open, he’s already begun the recovery process on his favourite surface. But for a man who has enjoyed so much success on Centre Court, only glory will do in Southwest London. If this week is anything taught us anything, mentally, Federer is in a magnificent mindset to make a deep run.