Federer Falls to Thiem in Stuttgart

Greetings. The grass court season started this past week already with events in Stuttgart and s-Hertogenbosch. Federer was back heading the field in Stuttgart after missing the French Open due to back problems.

He needed three sets to defeat Fritz in his first match and two tiebreaks to defeat Mayer before falling to the player I have been hyping since 2014, Dominic Thiem. Thiem won 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 after Federer had match point on his serve in the second set tiebreak.

Thiem also had a 5-1 lead in the second set. Federer looked short of match play which you would expect after all his injury problems. He hasn’t played much at all so far this year which is a big concern for him.

It is starting to look like another 2013 which would hardly be worth his time. But it is a little early to say that with Halle and Wimbledon coming up. There is still time for him to play himself into better form and make a strong run at Wimbledon.

What I do find interesting is how quickly people started writing him off again, like he can’t play tennis to save his life anymore. It is strange how all of a sudden these people just ignore how well Federer played in his last three slams.

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If it wasn’t for Djokovic he could have won all three those slams! But now that he’s had some injuries and couldn’t play he is done and should retire. That may be the case, but it wouldn’t be because he isn’t good enough anymore.

He was easily the second best player in the world before he got injured. What I would admit is that I always felt that the seemingly never-ending losses to Djokovic in big matches would eventually take its toll.

I mean we are talking about four straight slam losses, a World Tour Finals final loss, and several losses in Masters Series finals since 2014. I’m not saying that is why Federer got injured but it might be.

I don’t know how you keep coming back for one beating after the other when the beatings seemingly are only getting worse. In one way or the other, it must catch up with you. That said, I’m glad Federer was playing in Stuttgart injury free.

I hope he does well in Halle too, where his draw looks pretty good. It should be a pretty interesting event because he is drawn to face Goffin in the quarters and Berdych in the semis.

  • Thiem Goes From Strength to Strength

Thiem is also playing Halle but he is not finished in Stuttgart where the final rained out today with him trailing Kohlschreiber 2-3 in the first set tiebreak with the German about to serve. I didn’t think there was any way Thiem would defeat Federer on grass.

And really Federer should not have lost that match but still huge credit to my man Thiem for being in his first grass court final. After his French Open semi-final, he shot up to #7 in the world and this is his best grass court result yet.

He just keeps going from strength to strength and is playing with a new-found confidence which you would expect after making your first slam semi-final. Clearly he can play on faster surfaces too.

I always thought he could use clay as a kind of springboard to do well on faster surfaces because he does have a good all-court game. He has a big serve and actually has great touch at net.

Hopefully, he can win Stuttgart and then make a good run at Wimbledon as well. It is always good to see him play. He can do well in Halle too, where he could play Kohlschreiber in the quarters again.

In the semis, he’s got Nishikori who is not that great on grass so we may even see another Federer vs Thiem match in the final if we are lucky. But it is tough to tell what will happen in Halle which makes it an interesting event.

Looking forward!

  • Highlights

Nadal Wins First Grass Court Title in Five Years in Stuttgart

How is everyone doing after the week break? Nadal won his first grass court title since winning Wimbledon in 2010 today when he defeated Troicki 7-6(3), 6-3 in the Stuttgart final. Stuttgart is an ATP 250 event that doesn’t carry much significance, kind of like what was the case with Istanbul. But a title is a title and Nadal had to battle through some tough matches early on against Baghdatis and Tomic. He needed three sets in both those matches and then defeated Monfils and Troicki in straights to win the title.

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Nadal will also be in action at Queen’s this coming week. Usually when he suffers a big loss like the one in Paris he takes a long break, but he seems determined to get back to his best this time. It’s yet to be seen whether he can do so, but given his history you can’t put anything beyond him. His career trajectory is so unpredictable and strange that I won’t be surprised if he wins Wimbledon and the US Open now. That said, Stuttgart was a small event and we will see how he fares in Queen’s this coming week with the big boys back.

  • Queen’s Preview(Draw)

Murray will be back as top seed, Stan as the second seed, Raonic as the third seed, and Cilic as the fourth seed. Cilic played Stuttgart too but lost in the semis to Troicki. I must say it’s pretty nice to see Nadal as the fifth seed for an event like Queen’s. He is in Stan’s quarter but Stan is already playing Kyrgios in the first round, and he has another decent grass court player in Anderson in the second round. There has been quite a bit of talk about Stan’s grass court game after he won the French Open.

Rod Laver, for instance, said that grass should be right up Stan’s alley with his big serve. That remains to be seen. Stan did quite well at Wimbledon last year when he lost in the quarters to Roger in four sets. And maybe with the added confidence of another slam title he can go one or two further this year. I’m just not convinced his game is suited so well to grass. His game tends to be favored by slower surfaces where he has time to set up those big ground strokes.

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That is why he won slams at the two slower slam surfaces. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyrgios upsets him. His draw will certainly be a test of his grass court prowess. Another weird thing that is going on with Nadal is that his big serve from the 2010 US Open seems to be back, or close to it.  I watched some of his matches against Baghdatis and Tomic and he was serving aces left and right. I guess he is just so ‘talented’ that whenever he needs something extra he can find it at will.

Anyway, it should be interesting to see what happens at Queen’s. Murray is the favorite to make the final in the top half while the bottom half is much more open. I guess anyone out of Stan, Kyrgios, Nadal, and Raonic can make the final there. But the main thing I want to check out is whether Nadal can keep improving. The title in Stuttgart certainly wouldn’t have hurt and with his serve becoming a serious weapon out of nowhere again he can certainly do some damage.

  • Halle Preview(Draw)

The other ATP 500 event this coming week will, of course, be in Halle where Roger is the top seed, followed by Nishikori, Berdych, and Monfils. Roger’s draw looks pretty smooth until the semis where he could play Berdych. Given his routine win over Berdych in Rome I doubt he will be a big concern. Nishikori on grass is not really a big threat either so it looks like an 8th Halle title for Roger. His clay form was good so I don’t see any reason for him to lose here unless Berdych plays out of his skin or something.

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The is in your court.