Following a rather fruitful season on clay where he made it to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, the 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has made a seamless transition from clay to grass. Federer defeated Australia’s John Millman 7-6 (6-1), 6-3 in their Round of 32 clash in Halle, Germany at the Noventi Open to get off to a winning start on his favorite surface.
The 9-time champion at Halle and last year’s finalist will meet the ever so unpredictable Jo-Wilfried Tsonga next. The Frenchman too is coming off an impressive win, defeating compatriot Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 in their first round encounter.
Federer and Tsonga have played against each other 17 times, and Federer leads the head-to-head by a margin of 11-6. However, they have met just once on grass before where the Frenchman stunned the then 6-time Wimbledon champion in his own fortress, at the All England Club.
Down two sets to love, Tsonga made a staggering comeback to win the next three sets and upset the Swiss maestro 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon 2011.
In their previous two meetings too, it was the Frenchman who came out on top. Federer last defeated Tsonga at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2014.
Barring a few tricky moments in his first round clash against Millman, Federer was at his usual best with some of his imperious shots being reminiscent of his vintage self on grass. Right now he is not just looking to win his 10th title at Halle, but would also be keen to get a feel of playing on grass again, especially after so spending so much time on clay.
Tsonga, a player with freakish talent, never really took off in his career the way one would have expected. Apart from a few sensational wins here and there, the giant-killer as he is reputed to be has always been haunted by the inconsistencies in his game.
In this upcoming clash between the two veterans of the game, Federer would be looking to fine-tune his game against one of the better, more unpredictable players on the tour. On the other hand Tsonga would hope to find some inspiration and light up his rather disappointing 2019 so far.
In terms of skills, experience and record, Tsonga is no match for Federer. But the 34-year old Frenchman, who is in the twilight of his career, is completely capable of stunning the World No. 3 in their Round of 16 clash.
Can Federer cruise past Tsonga, or will the Frenchman create a major shock by bringing a premature end to Federer’s bid to win his 10th Halle title?
Prediction: Federer to win in three sets.
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