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Roger Federer vs Borna Coric ATP Halle tennis live: Federer to extend grass-court winning streak to 21 matches with tenth title

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 23 Jun 2018
  • Roger Federer faces Borna Coric in the final of the Gerry Weber Open
  • Federer vs Coric tennis is live from Halle on Sunday at 1pm local/12pm BST
Roger Federer (Photo by Thomas Starke/Getty Images)

Roger Federer faces Borna Coric in the final of the Gerry Weber Open as the world no. 1 bids for a tenth ATP Halle title.

Top seed Roger Federer looks to complete a decade of Gerry Weber Open titles and win his 21st consecutive match on grass as he takes on Borna Coric in Sunday’s ATP Halle final.

Federer hasn’t been playing his best tennis in Halle on his way to the final – he had to save match points against Benoit Paire in the second round and had to come back from a break down against Matthew Ebden in the second set in the quarterfinals. Against Denis Kudla in Saturday’s semifinals, Federer broke early to lead 2-0 but was immediately pegged back and had to win the first set in a tie break; in the second set he had to dig himself out of a 0-30 hole at 1-2 and a 0-40 hole at 3-4 against the inspired qualifier, who hadn’t lost a set in five matches played in Halle and who was doing a great job of hitting the ball extremely hard and flat. It wasn’t enough, however, with Federer’s serve getting him out of trouble in those two dicey service games. The nine-time champion converted his first break point in the second set and then served out a 7-6(1), 7-5 victory.

The going was tough enough for Federer that he even got handed a code violation, and a warning, for smacking a ball out of the stadium after losing a point in the second set, an unusual sight but one which Federer brushed aside in his press conference. 

‘Hitting a ball out of the stadium for me is like in practice happens every other day. So, this doesn’t happen very much on live TV but I actually think it’s quite funny, and it makes me smile on the inside - and it gives us something else to talk about rather than only talking about break points and stuff,’ Federer said.

Federer also insisted that his scratchy play in Halle was not really a cause for concern.

‘I felt like I had to push myself a little bit today in the match. It didn’t come as easy as maybe other days,’ he said after beating Kudla. 

But Federer also pointed out that while he might be tired after a lot of tennis played recently – he won five matches in Stuttgart last week to claim the Mercedes Cup title, and four already in Halle this week – he has an extra boost of energy at being so close to another Gerry Weber Open title.

This will be Federer’s twelfth appearance in the title match in Halle, and he has a 9-2 record, with his defeats coming in back-to-back final appearances in 2010 and 2012 when he lost to Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas respectively. Since then, he’s won all four finals he’s appeared in and comes into this match on a 20-match winning streak on grass, with his last defeat at the hands of Haas in the first round of Stuttgart over a year ago. So what are the odds that Borna Coric can win this?

Borna Coric (Photo by Thomas Starke/Getty Images)
Coric, still very much one of tennis’s younger cohort at age 21, hit his career-high ranking of world no. 28 back in April after a 2017 season which included winning his first title in Marrakech, quarterfinals in Doha and Dubai in the first two months of 2018 and, most notably, really impressive results at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters: Reaching the semifinals of the former (where he met Federer) and the quarterfinals of the latter. 

It seemed like the Croatian, who had threatened to be a young talent who got lost, was finally poised to join the likes of Hyeon Chung and Alexander Zverev in the top echelons. But Coric had a quiet clay season, with his best results reaching the third round at the Madrid Masters and then again at the French Open before losing to Diego Schwartzman, and wasn’t expected to do much on grass – after all, he had only won two matches on grass in his career up until this point.

The script has been flipped in Halle, however, with some impressive performances from Coric on his Gerry Weber Open debut. He started out by stunning second seed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4, and went on to beat lucky loser Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andreas Seppi – no slouch on grass – to reach his second ATP World Tour semifinal of 2018 where he faced Roberto Bautista Agut.

Unfortunately, Bautista Agut slipped and injured his hip and was forced to retire after five games, which is not the way Coric would have wanted to progress to his first ATP World Tour 500-level final – but he will still be rightly proud to find himself in his fourth career final, and the biggest yet.

Federer and Coric met for the first time in Dubai in 2015 when Coric was a teenage lucky loser and got three games from the great man in the semifinals. Their most recent encounter, in the semifinals of the Indian Wells Masters, was a different story. Federer was on a 16-match winning streak, but Coric not only took the first set but led by a break in the second set, and then twice in the decider, putting himself just a handful of games away from a huge victory over the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Coric couldn’t close it out, and Federer won 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to preserve an unbeaten record against the Croatian. It’s difficult in many ways to believe that it will be anywhere near as close on grass, a surface that doesn’t seem to offer a particularly natural fit for Coric’s compact game, even if Federer’s level has been underwhelming at times this week. The nine-time Halle champion knows everything about how to play on these courts and he knows he’s got a week off after one final burst of energy; he knows, too, that there is no better surface on which to leverage his natural attacking advantage over Coric. Federer will make it ten Gerry Weber Open titles and do it in straight sets. 

Federer vs Coric final tennis is live from Halle on Sunday at 1pm local/12pm BST

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Roger Federer vs Borna Coric ATP Halle tennis live: Federer to extend grass-court winning streak to 21 matches with tenth title

Roger Federer hasn’t been at his best in Halle but nevertheless looks set to beat Borna Coric as the latter plays his first grass-court ATP final: Gerry Weber Open tennis live from Halle

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