After a decent outing on the red dirt at Roland Garros, Roger Federer returned to his beloved grass on Monday, at the ATP Halle Open. After winning his first three matches at Paris, the 39-year-old withdrew from the French Open. The Swiss said he needed some rest before the grass season, adding that he was not keen on over-stressing his knee. The 20-time Major champion made a much-anticipated comeback to professional tennis earlier this March at Doha. He was on an extended break after undergoing knee surgery following his Australian Open semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic last January.
Return to the Halle Open
In his first grass court match of the season, the eight-time Wimbledon champion was challenged by young Belarusian Ilya Ivashka. Neither player broke serve in the opening set, which Federer won in a tiebreak. After finally breaking Ivashka’s serve in the 12th game of the second set, Federer closed out the match 7-6(4, 7-5 in just over 90 minutes.
The 10-time Halle champion will meet in-form Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Putting his disappointments of the French Open behind, the 20-year-old Canadian made an impressive start to his grass court campaign. He was a finalist at the Stuttgart Open last week, where he lost to Marin Cilic in the title clash. In his opening round at Halle, the young and promising Canadian got better of Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 7-5.
Roger Federer vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
Interestingly, Federer and Auger-Aliassime have never met before on the ATP Tour. That makes their upcoming battle even more exciting and dazzling, as they prepare to lock horns on Wednesday.
On his comeback, Federer, who suffered early exits at Doha and Geneva, is slowly but surely warming up to the hustle of the Tour yet again. In Auger-Aliassime, the Swiss “maestro: finds a worthy opponent who can challenge him with his array of ground strokes and his speed and mobility on the court.
Halle has always been Federer’s happy hunting ground. The tournament has helped him over the years to prepare better for Wimbledon. The 20-time Major champion would hope to fine tune his skills over the course of week to maximize his chances of going the distance at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships.
Looking Towards Wimbledon
Over a career that has spanned for over 20 years, Federer has always mesmerized us not only with his skills and finesse but also with his remarkable comeback stories–just as the one he engineered when he won the 2017 Australian Open. The former World No.1, who will turn 40 this August, is trying to weave his magic once again. A title triumph at Halle would boost his confidence significantly as he aims to give his all at All England Club–the place where he has enjoyed rich vein of success over the course of his glittering career.
As he prepares to face Federer, there is no doubt that the young Canadian will receive a lot of detailed insights into the Swiss’ game from newly-added coach Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach. It remains to be seen how well Auger-Aliassime implements the tactical wisdom in the middle under pressure.
There is no doubt that Federer is a clear favorite in the upcoming clash, but the 20-year-old Canadian is certainly capable of springing us a surprise by pushing the veteran.
In a battle of generations, can Federer overpower the youngster to stay in the hunt for his 11th title at Halle? Or will Auger-Aliassime shock the 20-time Grand Slam champ in his own backyard?
An exciting battle awaits us as Federer and Auger-Aliassime battle on Wednesday to book a quarterfinal spot at this year’s Halle Open.
Main Photo from Getty.