For the second time in as many weeks, an up-and-coming star has upset Roger Federer on grass.
Just as his good friend Dominic Thiem did in Stuttgart, Sascha Zverev took out Federer in a three-set semifinal, booking a spot in Sunday’s Halle final. However, while Thiem and Zverev are thought of as the same generation, Thiem, who turned 23 in September, is much older in tennis terms than Zverev, who didn’t hit 19 until April.
With a 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 victory, Zverev not only denied Federer a chance to play for his historic ninth title in Halle, he became the first teenager to defeat the 17-time Grand Slam champion since Andy Murray at Cincinnati in 2006. Coincidentally, all five of Federer’s losses in his phenomenal 2006 campaign were at the hands of teenagers, the other four courtesy of Rafael Nadal.
Though Federer is still far short of his pre-injury form, Zverev was still very impressive, both because he bounced back against a legend after failing to close out match point against Nadal in Indian Wells and for how he played, dominating the rallies and being the more assertive player. Midway through the final set, ATP stats showed Zverev had hit 32% of shots inside the baseline compared to just 12% for Federer.
Zverev has stormed up the rankings (he’ll be seeded at Wimbledon) and will play his second ATP final. After coming up short in the 250 Nice final last month against Thiem, he’ll face fellow German Florian Mayer for a 500 title on home soil.
As for Federer, he’ll hit Wimbledon without a title on the year for the first time since 2000, his movement and consistency still short of the level he’ll need to make a run for his 8th title in London.
Elsewhere around the world, Andy Murray will face Milos Raonic for a record fifth title at Queen’s Club, while Madison Keys seeks to cap off her impending arrival into the top 10 with a title in Birmingham.