HALLE, Germany - His return to the tour may not have gone exactly to plan last week - he was bounced by Tommy Haas in his opening match in Stuttgart - but it’ll be Take Two for Roger Federer in Halle this week, where he’s the top seed at the ATP World Tour 500-level Gerry Weber Open.
And there’s history on the line this week, too: If Federer wins his ninth title in Halle, he’ll become just the second man in the Open Era to win the same tournament nine or more times.
The only man to achieve that feat in the Open Era is Rafael Nadal, and he’s actually done it at three tournaments, and he’s actually won them all 10 times - Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros.
Additionally, only two women in the Open Era have won the same tournament nine or more times: the Tennis Channel’s own Martina Navratilova (who won 12 titles in Chicago, 11 titles in Eastbourne and nine titles each at Dallas, Washington DC and Wimbledon) and Steffi Graf (nine titles in Berlin).
But before jumping too far ahead, Federer will be focused on getting out of his opening round, which tripped him up last week. He plays Yen-Hsun Lu, against whom he’s 3-0, and 8-0 in sets, but there are a few red flags. Lu reached his only Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2010, and three of his seven career Top 10 wins have come on grass - one at Wimbledon and two at Queen’s Club.
“It’s important for me, especially after the Stuttgart week, to make sure I win my first round match and get going,” Federer told atpworldtour.com during his pre-tournament press. “I want to take the right decisions on the tennis court. I don’t want to question myself too much. I’ll have the right focus and mindset, that point by point mentality. That was a little bit off in Stuttgart, understandably so.
“I have to learn from that week and move forward in a better way.”
If history is anything to go by, Federer’s chances in Halle might be better than they were in Stuttgart - maybe much better. The 18-time Grand Slam champion is now just 2-2 lifetime in Stuttgart, but an incredible 54-6 in Halle, capturing the title in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Watch Roger Federer in Halle all week on Tennis Channel and Tennis Channel Plus!
And here are some highlights of the last time Federer and Lu played, at the Australian Open in 2015: