Tennis

Zverev takes on old master Federer in Halle final

Alexander Zverev lost in the 2016 final in Halle.
Alexander Zverev lost in the 2016 final in Halle. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

One is commonly feted as the greatest of all time. The other is hailed as the best of next. And they will battle for the Halle title on Sunday in front of thousands of adoring fans. Roger Federer, 35, will play 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in a match spanning the generations.

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Of his 91 crowns on the circuit, Federer has won 18 Grand Slam tournaments. The latest came at the Australian Open in January. Federer then added the “sunshine double” of Indian Wells and Miami to his impressive trophy collection in the spring.
 

Following those travails, the Swiss veteran opted to miss out on the clay court season in order to preserve his ageing limbs for an assault for an eighth Wimbledon title and the American hardcourts.

During Federer’s absence from the clay, Zverev underlined his promise by winning the Italian Open beating the then world number two Novak Djokovic in the final in Rome. It took his tally to three titles for the season following successes at Montpellier and Munich.

However Zverev, seeded ninth, failed to make an impression at the French Open losing in the opening round to the Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.

To reach the final in Halle, Federer and Zverev had contrasting fortunes in the semi-final. Federer enjoyed a straight sets win over the 21-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 while Zverev came from a set down to overcome the Frenchman Richard Gasquet 4-6 6-4 6-3.

"I thought it was extremely close, especially that second set,” said Federer. “I'm just very happy how I was able to close it out in the tiebreaker," added the Swiss, who first reached the Halle final in 2003 when Zverev was just out of kindergarten.

"It was perhaps not always very beautiful to watch but it's good to be in the final in the second tournament after my return."

Zverev is the youngest player in the world top 20 and is seeking better fortunes in the 2017 final. Last year, after beating Federer in the semis, he lost to compatriot Florian Mayer.

"Roger is the best player of all time on grass,” said Zverev on the eve of Sunday's showdown. “It will be a very difficult match.”

 

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