Bet-at-home Open: Federer through to the quarter-finals at Hamburg
Roger Federer needed five set points and six match points, but managed to subdue the spirited Jan Hajek in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals of the bet-at-home Open – German Tennis Championships in Hamburg. Federer is a four time winner at the tournament but hasn’t played there since losing the finals in 2008. Federer squandered many chances before eventually clinching a 6-4, 6-3 victory in an hour and 12 minutes.
Federer won the toss and served first. But an overcooked forehand and a shanked backhand made one wonder if he was still uneasy with his new stick – a 98” Wilson. The true identity of the racket is still a mystery, with Federer having it blacked out for the week. The shanked backhand left him facing break point, but the world No. 5 rallied with an ace and an aesthetic backhand up the line winner to hold serve.
Federer broke serve at 15 in the fourth game to control of the set, but let the leash slip out of his hands almost immediately. The utility of Federer’s new wand was on full display when he struck a running forehand cross court winner on the stretch to get to 30-30 in the fifth game. But Hajek won the next two points, the second with a net cord to break back the Swiss legend.
Hajek was in a spot of bother at 0-30 in the next game, but Federer made too many errors to let the Czech off the hook. In the seventh game, Hajek matched Federer stroke for stroke, before striking a backhand cross court winner to go up 15-30. Federer courted trouble when he shanked another forehand to concede the third break point off his serve. Fortunately for the Swiss, he found the range on his backhand to prevent another break.
Hajek was down a break point in the crucial eighth game, but bailed himself from trouble with an ace followed by an inside out backhand winner. Federer chose an opportune time to impose himself, with hold to love in the ninth game – with his most impressive showing of the afternoon. Federer eventually took the first set at the fifth time of asking after a lengthy tenth game that ended when Hajek courted the net on two consecutive points.