Last week in Germany it was Dominic Thiem. This weekend the honor of eliminating the great Roger Federer fell to another youngster, teen Alexander Zverev. The 19-year-old German pocketed his first career Top 10 victory beating the world No. 3 Federer impressively 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3.
Zverev came oh so close earlier this year in a tough loss to Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells. But today, the teen didn’t blink serving out the 8-time Halle champion with ease.
“I feel pretty good,” Zverev said after. “I played very good, served well once again. So, I think that helped me a little bit and I played well in the important moments. It’s unbelievable to get a win against Roger, especially on grass.
“He played really well. He played a really really good game at 5-all, I didn’t really make any mistakes or anything like that. He just played good. So, I just knew I had to stay with him in the third set, in the beginning of the third set, you know he had a lot of break chances where I played good. That was also one of the biggest factors why I could get away with a win.”
Changing of the guard? Not yet. But it’s coming.
The 19-year-old has all the tools. The height, the power, the serve, a complete game and even some pedigree – his older brother Mischa also played on the pro tour (and once lost to Federer in Halle 6-0, 6-0!). And on his way to the Top 10 he’ll likely avenge his brother’s loss several more times.
For Federer, it’s the first teen to beat him since way back in 2006 when Andy Murray stunned Roger in Cincinnati. But looking ahead, losses to Thiem and now Zverev doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Not when his favorite stop, Wimbledon, is just around the corner and the event is still best-of-5 last I checked. And most importantly, his almost 35-year-old body seems to be holding up.
“After a loss clearly is always tougher to step back and just to reassess how great everything is, you know, after losing,” said Federer. “But I must say it’s gotten better and better. The only thing maybe missing is a better baseline game. I guess that comes through movement and through just playing enough again. I feel the serve has come back around now, the returns have gotten better also throughout the match today. And I think if the movement gets better and then the baseline game improves a little bit I’ll be better on the big points, on the return and also I’m going to be hopefully in less trouble on my own service games at time.
“I’m okay and I’m pleased on how I played, how I’m feeling and now we’ve got enough time before Wimbledon to get ready for that.”
So Roger’s probably not where he wants to be, but given his age and his injuries this year, he’ll take it and hope things improve at Wimbledon where he’s reached the final the last two years and three of the last four.
“I know what I need to work on in the next ten days,” Federer said. “Clearly, I also need to rest now. It’s been a lot of tennis in… this has been seven matches in nine days, or ten days now. So, it’s been intense and it’s been busy and it’s exactly what I needed. At least I have a clear picture now where my game is at, what I need to do and without Stuttgart and Halle I wouldn’t have that. So, I have more clarity now.”
Zverev moves into his second career final after losing to Thiem in Nice last month, and he’ll meet Florian Mayer who used his experience to upset a weary Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4.
“I was not moving that well, the strokes were not that powerful, also he’s playing really uncomfortable on grass, comes in a lot and plays really good volleys, has an unbelievable touch. I didn’t find a solution for him today,” Thiem said.
Zverev will be favored, but like Mayer did today the veteran will give Alex a lot of different looks and balls. But power should win out and I think he’ll get his first ATP title and become the first teen to win a crown since Marin Cilic at 2008 New Haven.
SUNDAY HALLE SCHEDULE
STADION start 12:00
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs  L. Kubot (POL) / A. Peya (AUT)
A. Zverev (GER) vs [PR] F. Mayer (GER)
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