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Tennis

Halle Crown Precursor to Roger Federer’s Wimbledon Success

In seeing Roger Federer’s triumph last week in Halle, Germany at the Gerry Weber Open, one could be forgiven for interpreting the result as an omen of yet another Federer win at Wimbledon.

The Halle tournament, a perennial tour stop, is part of the short grass court tennis season. Players come in preparation for Wimbledon and the competition is generally a staple of Federer’s schedule.

Federer’s success at the Halle tournament has been a kind of predictor of his winning Wimbledon, especially in the early stages of his career. 2012 stands as the only year in which Federer has won Wimbledon and played at Halle without winning both tournaments. (He did not play Halle in 2007 or 2009, two years in which he won Wimbledon.)

In other words, when Federer wins Wimbledon, he almost always has won the Gerry Weber Open a few weeks before. As such, a Federer fan naturally was thrilled with the Swiss’ eighth win at Halle on June 21.

As of late, however, Federer’s wins at the Gerry Weber Open have been inconsistent as a forecast for his Wimbledon. In 2008, 2013 and 2014 Federer has won Halle but not Wimbledon.

No, it would not be reasonable to stake one’s hope of a Federer championship on a grass court warm-up tournament. Federer, now 33, has not won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012. He has played through several up-and-down seasons, this season’s results being a salient example: a resounding win over Djokovic in Dubai but a round of 32 loss at the Australian Open and an upset in the first round in Madrid.

From 2003-2006, Federer won both Halle and Wimbledon. While Federer’s recent victory perhaps does not indicate a return to the dominance that he displayed in winning five straight Wimbledon titles, it could be a glimmer of hope.

In the Halle final, Federer’s all-court game was at its best, enabling him to dismiss Andreas Seppi with a devastating combination of serve and volley, slice and creative angles. Grass allows Federer the full expression of his skills, and last Sunday he appeared to be the Roger of old, producing winning shots when he needed them and taking the title with confidence. Federer fans will be encouraged by the fact that Federer is currently ranked second in the world while Rafael Nadal is at his lowest ranking in a decade.

It remains to be seen if the Halle triumph will be linked to another Wimbledon title for Federer. As the second seed, he is in the same half of the draw as Andy Murray and Nadal.

However, Federer is rested in prepared for this year’s All England Championships: “It’s probably been the best preparation I’ve ever had for Wimbledon,” said Federer. “Because we have a week more on the grass. Winning [the Gerry Weber Open in] Halle has given me the extra confidence I guess it’s going to take me to win this title here,” Federer remarked.

It may not be a guarantee, but Federer’s win in Germany is a step in the right direction. Federer fans now can only watch as the Championships unfold over the next fortnight.

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