Each week, Baseline will take a look at a player who has thrived at one of the stops on the ATP and WTA tours during their career. (All photos: Getty Images)
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No Place Like 'Home': All hail Federer in Halle
The Swiss great has dominated the grass-court tournament over the years.
Published Jun 19, 2020
After winning the 1998 Wimbledon boys’ title quite handily without the loss of a set, it was assumed that Roger Federer would be a threat on grass courts throughout the course of his professional career, which has been proven true by virtue of his eight titles at the men’s event.
Centre Court at the All England Club isn’t the only place he’s come to dominate over the years. It’s at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, where the Swiss has been most prolific when it comes to playing on the grass, having won the title there 10 times since 2003.
In what had shaped up to already be a career-best year to that point, Federer captured his fourth title of the year—and first of his career on grass—by defeating Nicolas Kiefer in the final. With that victory under his belt, Federer would carry that momentum with him to Wimbledon as he captured his first career Grand Slam title.
A year later, the world No. 1 defended his title—his third repeat win of the year—by topping Mardy Fish in the championship match.
And just like the previous year, he would go on to win Wimbledon again. In fact, Halle proved to be the perfect preparation for the game’s most prestigious major as Federer pulled off the sweep between the two tournaments in 2005 and ’06, beating Marat Safin and Tomas Berdych in Halle, respectively.
Skipping the 2007 edition, Federer would still go on to win Wimbledon for the fifth year in a row. He returned to Halle in 2008 and triumphed again, this time over Philipp Kohlschreiber, but his Wimbledon winning streak came to an end.
And shortly afterward, so did his dominant run in Halle as he lost the finals the next two times he played in 2010 and 2012. Federer got back on track with another winning streak from 2014 to ‘15. The young German Alexander Zverev shocked him in the semifinals in 2016 for his earliest loss at the tournament in more than a decade, but Federer couldn’t be denied for too long as he came back the next year to win again, turning the tables on Zverev in the championship match. Youth was served once again, though, in the 2018 final, when Borna Coric of Croatia stopped him.
Returning to the tournament last year, Federer came in after a solid clay-court campaign—his first in two years—and appeared ready for the challenges of the grass once again.
After a couple of early-round battles, the Swiss settled into a groove and went on to defeat David Goffin in the final. It was his third title of the year and 10th overall in Halle, further cementing his status as the greatest men’s grass-court player of all time.