Halle and Queen’s Club

Federer is set to begin his run in Halle shortly, actually in about 15 minutes, against the Aussie Millman. Interestingly enough, they’re 1-1 H2H, the Millman win coming in the 2018 U.S. Open R16, one should recall.

Tough little grass introductory draw for the Swiss. Tsonga awaits in 2R, Gasquet/RBA QF, and a likely rematch of last year’s Halle final in the SF with Coric.

We’ll see if Federer can move on the grass like most people want to predict. I remember his game falling apart last year on the grass. He got through a tough draw to win his first Stuttgart in 2018, but he started to get quite limited in Halle with this FH. A limited Federer FH puts the Swiss in quite a pickle. He’s not able to put opponents away like he used to. Must serve well. Must get a lead. That’s the Federer forecast for advancing in these matches.

The bottom-half has the Zverev second-seed along with some other talent including Khachanov, Goffin, and last week’s Stuttgart champ Berrenttini who opens against the tough Georgian, Basilashvili.

Federer will have to have his feet moving and ball-striking in tow to get to that anticipated SF with Coric. Too early really to say much more. We suspect the S & V to be quite apparent since that seems to have been the direction Federer has gone on the season’s other surfaces. Looking forward to the grass there in Halle.

Queen’s Club looks like a solid field.

In the top-half, headed-up by top seed Tsitsipas, some interesting first round matches include Tsitsipas v Edmund, Kyrgios v Mannarino (last week’s winner in s-Hertogenbosch), Dimitrov v FAA, and del Potro v Shapovalov.

The bottom-half involves second seed Kevin Anderson, back from his little hiatus, set to continue his strong grass and second half of the season runs that we’re now coming to expect from the S. African, Wawrinka, Medvedev, Pouille, and defending champ Cilic.

Federer and Millman have gone to a first set TB. . .

The Aussie’s play can see a big lift with his positive belief, similar to what you’ll see with Kevin Anderson. Steadies these players’ games. Millman is a tough out.

Federer serving now in the TB at 4-1.  Make that 5-1.

Despite an apparent first set, decided in this TB, Federer has looked a bit shaky in this first set. Again, the rallies not really favoring the Swiss from the BL. He will have to get into these matches on serve and pressure his opponent somehow, perhaps through S & V.

Federer claims the first set with a 7-1 TB.

As you know, Berrenttini did indeed win Stuttgart, out lasting the Canadian teen 4 and 6 (11). I remarked in my last post about how these clay courters are finding some success on the grass (on all surfaces, especially in FAA’s case). This is a by-product of the slowing-down of surfaces, which is well documented.

In fact, I’m reading an old article from the New York Times from 1982, about Borg’s decline in the game. The article touches on Borg’s then recent schedule including Monte Carlo, Tokoyo and Las Vegas (where the Swede is being interviewed for this article). The author says Borg appears to be refreshed from a nap, despite the recent travels as well as the tennis being played on these three tournaments’ surfaces: clay (MC), indoors (Tokoyo) and cement (Vegas).

Think of the variety of tennis needed then. Now, the clay of Roland Garros and the grass has too much similarity. And the prevalence of indoor tennis, surfaces like carpet and cement, invited a much more offensive and fluent form back then. Today, from the choppy hard courts of Indian Wells and Arthur Ashe, to the slowed grass and the idiosyncratic clay, along with the equipment changes especially in racquets and strings, the game is quite different today.

I have touched on this, especially in my HRFRT piece. This will be boiled-over and served with an inedible spice for all of those tame tennis fans out there who get wet and ashamed in the shadow of this obnoxious Big 3 dominance of a sport that’s seemingly on life support.

Another example of how much the sport has changed? Short excerpt from the article:

The Men’s International Professional Tennis Council has ruled that because Borg failed to register for a minimum of 10 Grand Prix tournaments this year, he must play the qualifying of any Grand Prix event he enters. This policy will also apply to the Grand Slam championships at Paris, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

Notice anything? The Australian Open wasn’t on the radar yet, wasn’t even considered an authentic major, certainly not on the level of those other three.

Lastly, keep in mind that Borg here, in this slice of life from 1982, on the verge of complete retirement, is 26 years old. Ha ha. That sport, the one even of Pete Sampras, has been buried by the industry and celebrity moguls of today’s tennis culture.

This doesn’t make sense? You’re not following the narrative here?

Ignorance is bliss, my friend.

Returning to Berrenttini and the fluency of some of these guys going from clay to grass, I have often wondered why Nadal hasn’t been more successful on grass (they’re not as different as they should be, or once were).

I specifically asked this after the 2017 French Open, a tournament totally dominated, more than usual if you can believe that, by the Spaniard. I proposed: how is this dominance not somehow translated more effectively to the grass. His power and even his net game should translate.

The success of some of these younger types on both surfaces should point more to this curiosity with Nadal. By the second week of Wimbledon, the grass is hardened and the bounce is high.

Just maybe something as vague and abstract as “class” does make a difference. The grass does, still, require a bit of touch.

Federer looks to have found a little of that touch today against Millman, dismissing the Aussie 6(1) and 3.

We’ll have more, folks, soon.

Enjoy the tennis.

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