In an impeccable and dominant display of his artistry on the lush green grasscourts of Halle, the Swiss maestro Roger Federer registered an unprecedented 10th title at the Gerry Weber Stadium. David Goffin was extremely competitive in the first set of the final, offering stern resistance to the 20-time Grand Slam champion. But the moment Federer won the tie-break, there was no stopping him.
The wheels came off for Goffin in the second set and Federer cruised past his Belgian challenger 7-6(7-2), 6-1 in 1 hour, 23 minutes. In the process he registered his 102nd career title and 3rd of this year.
This is also Federer’s 19th career title on grass, he looks in good shape in the lead-up to the Championships. Had he lost in Halle, questions would have been raised about his form and chances at Wimbledon. But his victory reconfirms Federer yet again as one of the top favourites to win a record-extending 9th Wimbledon title.
Goffin on his part fought hard all week, and a final showing just before Wimbledon is certainly a step in the right direction for the talented Belgian. He might have lost to the eventual champion Federer, but en route his path to the final he got the better of Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final and the rampant Matteo Berrettini in the semi-final; Goffin would certainly be very proud of his achievements in Halle.
As a matter of fact, this was Goffin's first final since his appearance in the summit clash at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Grigor Dimitrov. He can draw huge inspiration from his remarkable journey at Halle, and would be fancying his chances at the upcoming Wimbledon.
Zverev’s woes in 2019 continue as he has yet again faltered at the big stage. The young German suffered a shock defeat at the Stuttgart Open against Dustin Brown in their Round of 16 clash, to begin his grasscourt campaign in the worst possible way. And while he registered a couple of straight sets wins in Halle, he looked distinctly sub-par in the third set of his match against Goffin. Early exits at Stuttgart and Halle cast further doubts over his chances at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Italian Matteo Berrettini, who was crowned as the Stuttgart Open champion just a week ago, continued his rich vein of form at Halle, finishing as a semi-finalist before losing to Goffin. A win at Stuttgart and a place in the last four at Halle augur extremely well for the young and exuberant Italian in the lead-up to his campaign at Wimbledon.
We did come across a few other interesting stories too like the rise of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Borna Coric's never-say-die spirit, but in the end it was a familiar and expected story. Federer, the emperor on grass, once again triumphed in his own fortress to extend his legacy at Halle.
Can Federer win his 9th Wimbledon title this year, or will he suffer a shock exit similar to what we witnessed last year? It will be fascinating to follow Federer’s journey at the All England Club.