Roger Federer and Andy Murray completed the near formalities to perfection as both warmed up for the ultimate crown in tennis starting at Wimbledon on June 29 with victories at the Gerry Weber Open and Aegon Championships, respectively on Sunday.
As expected Federer beat the unseeded Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6(1),6-4 at Halle, Germany while Andy Murray had to do double duty at Queen’s Club, London but came out with flying colours as he first defeated Serbia’s Victor Troicki 6-3,7-6(4) and then the surprise finalist Kevin Anderson 6-3,6-4 in a low key final.
The two thus established themselves as clear favourites along with the defending champion Novak Djokovic for the two week gala event which has been put back by a week to allow additonal grass court practice after the punishing European clay court season.
Federer won his fourth title of the year, his 8th in Halle, 15th on grass which is a record and the 86th overall of his career as he beat the man who just five months ago had dramatically cut short his Australian Open campaign in Melbourne in the third round.
Seppi had two set points at 5-4 in the first set with the Swiss ace serving 15-40 down, but could only watch helplessly as the top seed served two aces to bring the score to deuce. Federer than ran away with the tie-break as the match was played with the roof closed at 3-3 and 40-40 on Seppi’s serve in the first set.
The only break of the match came in the tenth game of the second set as the Italian inevitably succumbed to the guiles of Federer dropping the second set 6-4. Federer served 14 aces and saved all four break points he faced, and converted on his fifth break point to seal the one hour forty eight minute final, improving to 34-6 in 2015.
At the other pre-Wimbledon grass court warm up event in Queen’s Club, London, the Scot Andy Murray resumed his semi-final which suspended due to rains last night at 3-3 in the first set with the Serbian Victor Troicki serving 30-40 down, and he wasted little time and broke twice to claim the first set 6-3.
Troicki had an early break of serve in the second set but Murray broke back before eventually winning it in a tie-break. The Serb had also reached last week’s final in Stuttgart (loss to Nadal). The top seeded Scot then returned barely two hours later and one break of serve in each set was all it needed as the seventeenth ranked Anderson could offer only token resistance to the Dunblane native who claimed his fourth win at the event.
Murray had won this title thrice in 2009, 2011 & 2013. He also equalled Novak Djokovic with 41 match wins in 2015, while Murray is 41-6 with three titles, Djokovic is 41-3 with five titles.
After one more event in Nottingham which has a strong 48 player field, the scene shifts to third grand slam season of the calendar. The unique Wimbledon seeding formula, where players gain 100% on all grass results in the previuos twelve months and 75% of the best result on grass the preceeding twelve months is unlikely to have a major impact among the top ten barring Milos Raonic being seeded seventh above David Ferrer, expect Andeas Seppi, Jersy Janowicz, Kevin Anderson and Victor Troicki to get better ranking than their current ATP ranking. The seeds will be announced on Tuesday and the 128 player draw will be out on Friday.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]