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Tennis roundup: Federer takes a step closer to 10th Halle crown

Last updated on: June 22, 2019 23:52 IST

Roger Federer

IMAGE: Roger Federer is seeking a 10th Halle Open title. Photograph: Leon Kuegeler/Reuters

Roger Federer's Wimbledon preparations gained momentum as the Swiss blasted past Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the final of the Halle Open where he is seeking a 10th title.

 

The 20-times Grand Slam winner was dragged to three sets in his previous two rounds in Germany but was back to his best in his first meeting with Frenchman Herbert, winning 86% of points on his first serve.

Up next for the 37-year-old, who is looking to win a 102nd tour-level trophy and move closer to Jimmy Connors' record of 109, is Belgian David Goffin who beat Matteo Berrettini 7-6(4) 6-3 in the other semi-final.

"The last couple of days were hard, that's why I am thrilled to be in the final," Federer, who was facing his 337th different opponent, said.

World number 33 Goffin had earlier ended Stuttgart champion Berrettini's eight-match winning streak, withstanding 14 aces and saving all three break points he faced.

"Matteo is a great player, he's serving so well. I had to be focussed and aggressive, not too passive," Goffin said.

"Otherwise he would have had a couple of chances... I played well from the start. That was the key to stay focused from the start. I'm playing well, more aggressive... so, it's a great feeling this week to be in the final."

Goffin's only victory against Federer in eight meetings came at the ATP Finals in London two years ago, where he eventually finished as runner-up.

The Halle Open is a warm-up tournament for Wimbledon which begins on July 1.

Barty a win away from world number one

Ashleigh Barty

IMAGE: Ashleigh Barty could become the first Australian woman to top the rankings in more than 40 years. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA

Ashleigh Barty will become the first Australian woman to be ranked world number one in more than 40 years if she beats her doubles partner Julia Goerges in the final of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on Sunday.

The 23-year-old, fresh from her maiden Grand Slam triumph at the French Open, has not dropped a set all week and an 11th successive victory will see her displace Japan's Naomi Osaka in top spot and emulate Evonne Goolagong's feat from 1976.

Barty sent down 11 aces and fired 24 winners on Saturday to dispatch world number 51 Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4.

"I have to try and do what I can do and that is prepare and do as best that I can tomorrow and try and play a good tennis match and if I win, it's a bonus," said Barty, who is seeking her sixth WTA tour title at an event where she was runner-up to Petra Kvitova in 2017.

"There are all things that come with it. But those things are certainly not what I'm worried about. It is not going to change the way that I sleep at night, if I don't get there or not. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

Should she win, Barty will join select company as the only other female players to win the singles title at Roland Garros and their next event on British grass courts have been Serena Williams, Steffi Graf (four times), Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Margaret Court.

But Goerges has also hit rich form and beat Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3 in the other semi-final.

Barty and Goerges, who has yet to win a title on grass but last year reached the Wimbledon semi-finals, have a 1-1 head-to-head record but the Australian won their previous clash en route to claiming the Zhuhai crown last year.

If Barty loses the final, she will be two points short of catching Osaka – the smallest margin between the top two ranked players since WTA rankings began.

Veterans Lopez and Simon set up Queen's final

Gilles Simon

IMAGE: Gilles Simon will hope to become the first French winner of the prestigious pre-Wimbledon title. Photograph: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon struck a blow for the older generation as they held off two of the sport's most exciting young talents to reach the Queen's Club final on Saturday.

After Frenchman Simon, 34, ground down Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 in baseline war of attrition, the 37-year-old Lopez used his vast experience to down 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.

Left-handed Spaniard Lopez, whose ranking has slipped to 113 and who has received a Wimbledon wildcard, will be contesting his first final since winning the prestigious Queen's event two years ago. Simon will be aiming to become the first Frenchman to triumph at the prestigious grasscourt event.

Both semi-finals were absorbing in an their own way.

The first was crammed full of interminable rallies regularly surpassing 30 strokes as Simon and Medvedev turned their match into the equivalent of a staring contest.

The second featured the old-school serve-and-volley of Lopez against the silky clean hitting of world number 21 Auger-Aliassime who had picked off Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas this week.

After requiring three hours 20 minutes to get past compatriot Nicolas Mahut on Friday -- the longest match at Queen's since 1991 -- it was surprising to see Simon outlast a player 11 years his junior.

"I put the ball in the court. That's what I do. And I do it for long," Simon told reporters.

With similar styles, both players camped out on the baseline waiting for openings that rarely materialised.

Medvedev won a 45-stroke rally to move 5-3 ahead in the tiebreak on his way to taking the opener.

After service breaks were exchanged early in the second set, however, it was Simon who began to take the upper hand.

Simon saved a break point at 1-1 in the decider, this time catching the baseline with a backhand to end a hypnotic 49-stroke exchange that had both players breathing hard on the warmest day of the rain-hit tournament.

Medvedev, clutching his back and leaning on his racket at times, looked a spent force and a double-fault cost him his serve at 3-4. Simon sealed victory in emphatic style to become the first French finalist here since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011.

Auger-Aliassime was the youngest semi-finalist at Queen's since Lleyton Hewitt, also 18, in 1999.

When he took the opening set against Lopez the prospect of him emulating Boris Becker, who in 1985 as a 17-year-old claimed his first Tour title by winning at Queen's, began to look increasingly likely.

He had not dropped a service game in the tournament and he banged down 14 aces in the first set.

Lopez was wobbling and had Auger-Aliassime converted the break point he had in the first game of the second set it was hard to see anything knocking the Canadian off course.

But he dropped serve for the first time in 44 service games when he hit a forehand long in the next game and Lopez suddenly looked revived as he took the second set.

Lopez saved a break point with an angled volley at the start of the third and his young opponent began to show the effects of a fourth match in three days.

He dropped serve at 2-2 and faced three match points at 0-40 when he served at 3-5, but hung on grimly.

Lopez calmly held, however, to win the match before teaming up with Andy Murray to finish off their doubles quarter-final that had been held over from the night before.

Del Potro says career could be over

Juan Martin del Potro

IMAGE: Juan-Martin Del Potro will miss next month's Wimbledon after scans revealed he had fractured his right patella -- the same injury that forced him out of the last four weeks of 2018. Photograph: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

Juan Martin del Potro is unsure if he has played the last match of an injury-hit career after re-fracturing his kneecap during the Queen's Club Championships, the Argentine has said.

Del Potro's injury curse struck again on Wednesday as the former US Open champion slipped during his victory over Denis Shapovalov and pulled out of the grasscourt tournament.

The world number 12 will miss next month's Wimbledon after scans revealed he had fractured his right patella -- the same injury that forced him out of the last four weeks of 2018 and restricted him to five tournaments this year.

"If that match was the last of one my career, I don't know. During rehab I will be able to think clearly. I will know what my body is able to do," the 30-year-old said on Instagram.

Since winning the 2009 US Open, Del Potro has undergone three left wrist surgeries and another to his right wrist but he fought back each time to return to the tour.

"After medical studies and talking to the doctors they said surgery was the best treatment," he added.

"I asked them for the best option health-wise, not just for tennis. They said surgery, no doubt about it. As you can imagine this is a tough moment, it's sad to go through all this again. I didn't expect this at all.

"I cannot say anything more than that. I don't know what will happen next. Hopefully I will have a good recovery. I hope my knee can heal properly."''

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