In a dream finale, eight time champion Roger Federer bids to become the oldest champion in Halle, while his opponent, 20 year old local favourite Alexander Zverev will try to become the youngest winner when the two clash on Sunday at the Gerry Weber Open.
Over at the Queen’s club in London, the 2012 champion Marin Cilic of Croatia takes on the in form Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez who will be playing his second final in as many weeks, having lost the Mercedes Cup final to the Frenchman Lucas Pouille in Stuttgart last Sunday.
Federer, who has 7 Wimbledon titles in his career, will bid to extend his record tally to 16 on grass and will be the oldest champion in this warm up event leading to Wimbledon starting July 3.
Tommy Haas was 34 years old when he beat Federer in 2012 at the same event. Haas, age 39 now, also knocked out Federer in the first round in Stuttgart last week. He gets a chance to avenge the defeat he suffered in the last four in Halle at the hands of the younger Zverev, who at 20 years of age bids to become the youngest winner in Halle.
In what was his earliest start of the tournament, Federer broke the tall Russian Karen Khachanov’s serve in the opening game but lost the advantage right away despite leading 40-15 in the second game. Khachanov dropped serve again in the third game and made Federer struggle to hold serve while closing out the first set at 5-4.
Federer broke in the seventh game of the second set but was broken while serving for the match at 5-4. He had to save two set points in the twelfth game before sealing his 11th final spot in the tie-break. The 6-4, 7-6(5) match lasted 85 minutes.
The GenNext star will rise to 34th in the rankings and would pose dangerous threat as he is likely to be unseeded at Wimbledon.
In the second semi final, the 31 year old Frenchman Richard Gasquet recovered from an early service break and looked on course to beat the young German from Hamburg.
Zverev would step up midway through the second set breaking serve once in the second set and then twice in the decider to emerge a 4-6,6-4,6-3 winner in one hour and fifty three minutes. It was his second consecutive three set win, having beaten the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut the previous day in three sets.
Apart from creating history, Federer has the added incentive of clinching third seed at Wimbledon, while Zverev will be seeded as high as eighth for the Championships should be beat the maestro. Both enter their fourth final of the year with a perfect 3-0 record.
Federer won in Melbourne to claim his 18th major title and then completed a third sunshine double of winning Indian Wells and Miami. Zverev has wins in Montpellier indoor event, and then on the clay courts of Munich and in Rome where he claimed his maiden Masters series title. Federer has won 91 career titles while Zverev has 4 career titles. His maiden win came at St. Petersburg Open in September last year.
At the upset ravaged Aegon Championships in Queen’s Club, London, the 2012 champion Marin Cilic fired 20 aces to edge past the dangerous Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3,5-7,6-4, claiming 43 of 47 points on first serve.
He has lost only 10 points on first serve in four matches this week. Cilic advances to his third final at Queen’s, joining Andy Murray(5), Andy Roddick(4) and Lleyton Hewitt(4) as the only players to have reached the title match on three or more occasions since 2000.
He won in 2012 after his opponent David Nalbandian was defaulted after he unintentionally hit a linesman smashing his racket in disgust at an advertising hoarding court side. He lost the 2013 final to Andy Murray. He fired 47 winners, to improve to 24-8 at the ATP World Tour 500 event.
He takes on another left hander Feliciano Lopez of Spain who avenged his 2014 final loss at the hands of the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, seeded sixth, with a 7-5,3-6,6-2 win in the rain interrupted second semi final. Dimitrov served 16 aces but faced 14 break points in the entire match and saved 11 of them.
Only one break of serve in the twelfth game settled the first set. Dimitrov was up 3-2 when the rains came but quickly took the second set 6-3 to force a decider. The pair had played a three tie-break final in 2014 which Dimitrov had won, but Lopez came out on top this time breaking serve twice in the third set in the two hour one minute encounter.
The following then are the line ups for the final with my pick mentioned first:-
At Halle :-
Roger Federer (1) (23-2) v. Alexander Zverev (4) (33-11); tied 1-1.
Marin Cilic (4) (23-12) v. Feliciano Lopez (-) (18-13); Cilic leads 5-2.
Prediction :- Federer and Cilic in two tights sets perhaps three.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]