Roger Federer will be the heavy favorite Sunday to win his first ATP title in nearly 10 months. The Swiss is a 5-time Halle champion and tomorrow will go for No. 6 against Mikhail Youzhny.
Posting one of his best wins of the season – at least by ranking – Federer nudged good friend Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a rematch of their 2012 final won by the German.
“It would be very nice to win any title during the season, because it gives you incredible confidence,” said Federer. “You know that you’re on the right track, you know you’re doing the right things, the hard work is paying off and your scheduling seems to make sense. Winning tournaments is everything. For me, it would be great to win the final.
“It comes at the right time. If I don’t, I know I can still build on something because I’ve had a good few weeks so far. But, no doubt about it, I’ll try everything in my power to win tomorrow.”
Haas had not lost serve all week, but against Federer I thought the 35-year-old looked apprehensive at times.
“It was a very close match, a very good match,” said Haas. “At the beginning of the second set, he was trying to be a little bit more aggressive. He played some really great points and deserved to break me early on. He started serving very well and didn’t give me many chances to try and break him. Once he starts running ahead, he’s very hard to catch up, especially on grass.”
Federer was a recent finalist in Rome and with this second shot at a title perhaps he’s finally found some form. Today he looked pretty good and his movement was crisp.
Later, Youzhny routed Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2 in a mild surprise. I would have pegged Gasquet to get through but credit to the 30-year-old who didn’t even need an hour to put away the Frenchman. Youzhny, though, has never ever beaten Federer in 14 tries.
“I never beat but a new match is a new match. We have the same chances,” pondered Youzhny. “I don’t think that I lost to him 14 times before and I never beat him and I don’t have any chances. Nobody knows what happens tomorrow.”
I think I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. If Roger can’t get beat Mikhail set the panic meter to 11.
At Queen’s, between the rain drops Andy Murray continued his strong return. After skipping the French to recover from a back issue, Murray has quickly regained his footing on the grass. Today, after a sketchy first hour of play against JW Tsonga, Murray revved up his game (or more precisely Tsonga’s fell apart) to cruise to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.
Up a set Tsonga had multiple break chances in the second but he just couldn’t cash it in. Murray then broke and ran away with the third.
Next up is Marin Cilic in the final. The defending champion also needed three sets to beat pesky 4-time Queen’s winner Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Cilic has won just once in nine meetings with Murray, but Andy remains wary.
“It will be a very tough match. He plays well here,” said Murray. “He’s won nine matches in a row and he’s beaten some very tough, top grass court players this week. I’ll try to play a good match tomorrow and regardless of what happens for me, it’s a good step in the right direction. It’s another tough match against one of the Top 10 grass court players in the world, I would say.”
The endgame to this abrupt grass season is to be playing three Sundays from now for the Wimbledon title. And right now it looks like Murray and Federer are putting themselves in position to do just that (again).
SUNDAY HALLE SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:30 pm
K Braasch (GER) vs Y El Aynaoui (MAR) – Exhibition Match
At 2:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs M Youzhny (RUS)
Not Before 5:00 PM
D Bracciali (ITA) / J Erlich (ISR) vs  S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA)
SUNDAY QUEEN’S SCHEDULE
CENTRE start 12:15 pm
 A Murray (GBR) vs  M Cilic (CRO)
COURT 1 start 2:00 PM
Not Before 2:00 PM
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
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Nadal, Murray Begin Grass Season at Queen’s Club; Del Potro, Nalbandian Return
Federer, Nadal Take to Grass Immediately; Queen’s, Halle, Birmingham Previews
Azarenka, Kvitova Meet For WTA Champs Title; Del Potro, Tsonga Tangle In Vienna
Nadal, Murray Collide For Tokyo Title; Berdych Battles Cilic In Beijing
Murray Reaches First ATP Final In 14 Months; Nishikori Strong In Kuala Lumpur