ATP Halle: Alexander Zverev ends Roger Federer's hopes of a ninth title

18-year-old Alexander Zverev completed arguably the finest win of his career so far, as he overcame nine-time champion Roger Federer to progress to the final at the 2016 Gerry Weber Open. The German completed the 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 victory after only securing his first break of the match in the decisive third set, to earn his first ever top ten victory.                                         

Zverev edges the first set tiebreaker

Zverev won the tie-breaker to earn his first set over Federer (Photo: Getty Images/Casper Jaspersen)
Zverev won the tie-breaker to earn his first set over Federer (Photo: Getty Images/Carmen Jaspersen)

Zverev defeated Federer for the first time in his career, to secure his place in Sunday’s final. The German looked edgy at the start of the deciding third set but composed himself well to win over his boyhood hero.

The opening set was completely dominated on serve, with neither player being able to even reach deuce when returning. Only twice did the returnee reach 30 in a game, with both serving at over an impressive 65 percent. With nothing between the two, they headed into a tie-breaker. Zverev made the first initial move by grabbing an early mini-break but handed the advantage back for 3-3 at the first changeover. Two points later he took another huge step gaining a set lead, breaking again to edge ahead 5-3. This time though, Federer could not recover, and Zverev had won his first ever set over the 17 time Grand Slam champion due to winning the tie-breaker 7-4.

The nine-time champion levels the match up

Federer upped his game at the end of set two to level the match up (Photo: Getty Images/Carmen Jaspersen)
Federer upped his game at the end of set two to level the match up (Photo: Getty Images/Carmen Jaspersen)

The second set followed a similar pattern, but Federer began to make inroads in his return games by forcing Zverev to hold from deuce in third game of the set. It was the unseeded German who created the first break points of the match, as he was unable to convert either of the two he held five games later. This lack of converting looked to have cost him in his next service game, but he summoned enough to hold a tough game for 5-4. He saved another when serving to ensure himself of at least another tie-breaker, but after saving a fourth break point, he slipped on the fifth due to a well manufactured dropshot by his illustrious opponent. Federer held to 15 to level the match up, leading the pair into a crucial deciding third set.

Zverev completes a huge victory

The momentum which the 34 year-old held was building, as he missed out on a break of serve in the very first game of the final set. Another was wasted in his next return game, with the momentum seemingly starting to equal itself up between the two players. It was Zverev who secured the vital break in the third set, taking advantage of a poor service game from Federer to go up 4-2. Any signs of a possible choke by Zverev were put to aside emphatically, as he only lost one more point on serve in his remaining two service games to defeat the top seed 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3.

Overall thoughts

Zverev edged the battle on the big points (Photo: Getty Images/Carmen Jaspersen)
Zverev edged the battle on the big points (Photo: Getty Images/Carmen Jaspersen)

The match was quite an even affair between two players at different ends of the career spectrum, but it was surprisingly the younger of the two who played the big points better to earn his place in Sunday’s final. When Federer levelled the match at a set-apiece, it looked likely he would progress to yet another final, but Zverev composed himself well and took advantage of a lapse in concentration from the top seed late in the match.

The match was very much serve-dominated, but Zverev’s efficiency at saving break points when it mattered gave him the ultimate edge. He saved 6/7 of break points he faced, whilst converting one of the three which he created on return. He coped well with the pressure facing him, and could have even got the win secured in straight sets. As for Federer, two good weeks of grass tennis will give him an indication of where he is physically, but a lack of titles heading into Wimbledon will not have improved his chances of lifting an eighth crown at SW19.

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