Federer and Lopez Claim Titles in Halle and Queens

Last week two 35-year olds won the ATP 500 titles in Halle and Queens and showed once again that the age for men to play their best tennis is getting older and older. Federer easily disposed of A. Zverev 6-3, 6-1 to win his 9th Halle title while Lopez defeated Cilic 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(8) to win his 6th career title.

Lopez also made the final of Stuttgart the previous week so he is on a strong run and has one of the best grass court games around. With his big serve and very solid volleys, he will be someone to watch out for at Wimbledon. Federer lost his first match in Stuttgart and then same as he did after losing to Donskoy in Dubai he won the next tournament he played.

This was Federer’s 92nd overall title and 4th title of the year. The way he disposed of Zverev in the final was particularly impressive. I think he wanted to send a little message after losing to Zverev in the Halle semis last year. Zverev had no chance at all and Federer was superb.

After watching Nadal dominate clay with his endless baseline grinding it was refreshing to see Federer play a masterclass of offensive tennis. Federer is the overwhelming favorite to win Wimbledon. Even if he lost to Zverev he would have been the favorite but now he looks especially lethal.

Peak Djokovic is the only player who can stop this Federer from winning an 8th Wimbledon title and Djokovic is pretty far from that right now. Speaking of Djokovic, he is playing in Eastbourne this week to get some matches and Agassi will also be with him at Wimbledon for as long as Djokovic needs him.

You can never write any of the big three off. Like we saw with Federer and Nadal this year they can come back to their best when you least expect it. That said, I don’t have any expectations for Djokovic. It’s now a similar situation as with Nadal at the French Open. The only guy with a legitimate shot at beating Federer would be peak Djokovic but it is a far safer bet to go with the guy who has been winning the most this year.

Federer almost won Wimbledon last year when he was struggling badly. This year he is in far better shape so he must be the overwhelming favorite. Federer has always owned Murray in big matches and Federer has turned his head-to-head around with Nadal. Nadal has also not been past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011.

Tomorrow Djokovic plays his first match in Eastbourne against Pospisil. His draw in Eastbourne looks pretty decent but he will already be tested in his first match. There is no telling what will happen in his current form. But he is still in the top 5 and in the run to pass Federer for consecutive weeks in the top 5 so it would help if he can win some matches.

It doesn’t look like Djokovic is currently in any danger of leaving the top 5 but a deep run at Wimbledon will help him and for that, a decent week in Eastbourne will help too. Federer was in the top 5 for 548 weeks before he fell out and Djokovic is currently in 3rd place at 525 weeks.

  • Highlights

Murray Wins Record Fifth Title at Queen’s

Congrats to Murray for making a little history of his own today in Queen’s, London by winning a record fifth title there and surpassing some big names in the process. It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest Murray fan but you have to give credit where it’s due.

Murray was down 6-7(5), 0-3 against Raonic before breaking Raonic for the first time in the tournament I think and doing so a total of four times before prevailing 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.

Murray’s returning was special and he was being aggressive in which case he becomes a formidable opponent. Raonic has a massive serve but Murray once again proved that having a big serve, no matter how good it is, is not good enough against the best in tennis.

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Murray’s on-court demeanor irritates the hell out of me but today I once again realized how damn talented he is. If his mental fortitude was not such a liability for him he would have won many more slams.

But having Lendl in his corner helps a lot with that I think. It gives him a certain stability and calmness which is so desperately lacking without Lendl. Murray proved to me today that he is a real threat at Wimbledon.

  • Who is Djokovic’s Biggest Challenger/Challengers at Wimbledon?

And since I’m not fanatical about supporting any given player I like that, even though I’m a big Djokovic fan. As a tennis fan, I think it would be boring if Djokovic just gets handed the calendar slam on a silver platter.

You actually want to see him challenged and have some interesting contests along the way. And unlike some tennis fans, I think there have already been some great contests on his way to winning the Djoker slam.

Specifically between him and Federer at Wimbledon and the US Open last year and this year at the Australian Open. But not just between them. There have been several others. Djokovic is not the kind of player who wins slams without dropping sets.

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I think there is an element of boredom to players doing that. I find it quite sad and pathetic how whiny and ungrateful tennis fans can be. They will always find a reason why there is something wrong with the game.

And yet we are in a golden era of tennis and have been since Federer and Nadal started dominating. To get back to Murray, I think he is the only guy who can realistically challenge Djokovic at Wimbledon.

Anderson challenged Djokovic last year but I think Djokovic is a better and more confident player now. I think having finally gotten the French Open monkey off his back and taking an extended break will do him the world of good.

  • Concerning Djokovic’s Motivation at Wimbledon

I have heard some people question how motivated he will be which I find astonishing given how driven Djokovic is and how badly he wants to become theΒ GOAT. He will be extremely motivated to win Wimbledon.

How many opportunities do you get to win five consecutive slams anyway? That’s right, Djokovic will be the first player in the open era to have that opportunity.

Laver did not have the opportunity at the 1970 Australian Open after completing the calendar slam in 1969 because he was banned due to signing to the National Tennis League.

With every match Djokovic wins from here on, he is making history. Why wouldn’t he be anything but motivated to the max?! Djokovic is also going for a third straight Wimbledon title and if he wins it he will be within one slam of the calendar slam.

To suggest he may not be motivated is beyond absurd. And having finally completed the career slam don’t be surprised if he is very relaxed and confident. But of course making history creates its own pressure.

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And the likes of Murray will be looking to take advantage of that pressure. That said, Murray will be facing his own pressure as he is per custom being hyped up as the favorite for Wimbledon by the British.

As a Djokovic fan, it is great to know you can always depend on the Brits to put maximum pressure on Murray to win the title. But having Lendl in his corner will help him to deal with that pressure better.

So I am looking forward to seeing what happens at Wimbledon this year. Raonic will be dangerous too. I see the bookiesΒ are even giving him better odds than Federer at Wimbledon which is not all that surprising given Federer’s current form.

He just lost to Zverev in Halle whose brother he defeated 6-0, 6-0 in 2014 in the same event. Before the semis, I thought Federer was showing improvement but I said we should see what happens in the rest of Halle first.

  • Federer and Thiem LoseΒ in Halle Semis

Well, Federer lost 6-7(4), 7-5, 3-6 to Zverev and it is hard to see him being a serious threat at Wimbledon. Sure you can’t count him out but he is more like a dark horse to me now. It is just hard to see him make a run at Wimbledon this year like he did last year.

But who knows. We will see how it goes in the first few rounds. As for Thiem, he didn’t make the final in Halle either because he lost 6-3, 6-4 to Florian Mayer, who also won the title over Zverev today, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

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Zverev saved two match points at *4-5 and 15-40 in the second set but,Β in the end, the wily veteran Mayer prevailed with his unique style. That doesn’t bode well for Federer because Mayer isn’t even fit and looked exhausted in the third set.

Federer desperately lacks match practice and even though he had more time to prepare on grass than the others the grass court season is not long enough for him to play himself into form. But like I said you can’t write him off.

  • Highlights

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Federer and Thiem Still On Course for Halle Final Meeting

Greetings. The final that I hoped for in Halle is still a possibility after Federer defeated Goffin 6-1, 7-6(10) and Thiem received a walkover over his final opponent from Stuttgart Kohlschreiber today.

That final that rained out was played on Monday and Thiem won it 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4 to win his first grass court title, fourth title this year, and seventh title overall. The kid sure is making good progress.

This week he is in the semis of another grass court event where he will play Mayer while Federer will play another youngster Zverev in the top half. Berdych lost in the first round which helped Federer but Zverev can’t be underestimated.

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Nice to see this man back on the grass!

Federer himself was still struggling this week due to lack of match practice but it looks like his level improved against Goffin. That’s the kind of win he needed to help him get back into form. But to be a serious threat at Wimbledon again he probably needs to win the titleΒ in Halle.

He hasn’t played much tennis at all this year which doesn’t leave him with room for error. And then there is still the injury concern. I don’t know if he will be much of a factor at Wimbledon this year but he is always a danger on grass.

Let’s see what happens in Halle first. It is nice to see him find some form anyway because if he is on form, that will just make Wimbledon more interesting.

  • Lendl Hooks Up With Murray Again While Mcenroe Joins Raonic Team

Talking of Wimbledon, Murray and Lendl are back together and apparently want to ruin Djokovic’s plans.

That already adds to the plot for Wimbledon. And it made me wonder again why Murray and Lendl broke up to begin with. I read Lendl had some health problems so maybe it was that. You wonder what they could have achieved if they stayed together.

Now that Federer and Edberg failed to put a dent in the Djokovic/Becker team it will be interesting to find out if the Murray/Lendl team can do so. Lendl helped Murray to break his grand slam curse by winning the US Open and Wimbledon.

Murray lost in four grand slam finals before he broke through at the US Open in 2012 and then after he won Wimbledon in 2013 him and Lendl parted ways and Murray has since lost in three more slam finals.

Now the big question is whether Lendl can help him break his slam drought again. One thing I do know is that Murray won’t play against the US Open 2012 and Wimbledon 2013 versions of Djokovic again.

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Can Lendl help Murray to break through again?

Those were poor versions of Djokovic compared to the player he is now. And a lot of that has to do with his coach Becker. I don’t know if Murray and Lendl can stop the Djokovic/Becker juggernaut but it definitely adds excitement to the situation.

At least for the tennis fans who are bored of Djokovic’s domination it does. But for me as a fan of Djokovic, it does too. That’s why I also hope Federer continues to improve. Sure I enjoy seeing Djokovic win everything but it is also interesting to see him challenged.

Becker has already tweeted that he is excited to have his old rival Lendl back in the locker rooms. Having these legends back as coaches definitely makes tennis more interesting in my view.

I see Mcenroe is coaching Raonic now as well who defeated Kyrgios in his first match in Queen’s this week and will now face Tomic in the semis. Raonic is another dangerous grass courter and the fact that Mcenroe joined his team makes the grass court season even more interesting.

In the top half of Queen’s Murray will play against Cilic. A Murray vs Raonic final there would be interesting if only for the reason that their coaches used to be big rivals as well.

  • Can Djokovic Actually Win Five Consecutive Slams?

Finally, I get to Djokovic who is as per custom not playing any competitive events before Wimbledon. He is just playing that Boodles event to get some practice matches under his belt before Wimbledon.

Even with the longer grass court season I think that is a great call. He can really do with the rest and start Wimbledon fresher than the rest of the field. Not that he needs any advantages given how far ahead of the field he already is.

But winning five consecutive slams has never been done in the open era so he will once again have to make history if he is to do that. You figure he can’t just keep on winning and that eventually he must lose a match in a slam.

But then you ask yourself who is going to beat him and it is difficult to find an answer. I happen to think winning the French is a big burden off his shoulders which may make him play even better if that is even possible.

I think he will show up at Wimbledon rested and confident ready to make history again. He really loves playing on grass now and it is his best surface after Plexicushion. It suits his game very well and he’s got the movement and everything under control now.

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Yes, he really did win it!

Last year after scraping past Anderson in the fourth round it was just a devastating display from him from there on. The final against Federer was played at an unbelievable level and the scary thing is there was still room for improvement.

I’m very much looking forward to Wimbledon this year. There are many good grass court players to make things competitive and if Djokovic wins a fourthΒ Wimbledon title he will be within range of the calendar slam which will be very exciting as well.

Wimbledon is still the pinnacle of our sport and it is always a special time of the year for tennis fans. This year will be no exception. But let’s see what happens in Halle and Queen’s first.

It would be crazy if Thiem wins another grass court title!

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