Swiss falls 6-2, 6-7(8), 4-6 to local hero Tommy Haas.
Roger Federer certainly didn’t expect his start into the grass court season to end like this. The 18-times Grand Slam champion from Switzerland was eliminated from the MercedesCup at Stuttgart’s Weissenhof already after his first appearance. The first set went according to script: superstar Federer got an early break already in the first game of the match, went on to add yet another and win the first set 6-2 in just 22 minutes.
Federer got another early break in the second set, but this time Haas battled back and got the re-break. Both players then held their serve until the score was 6-6 and a tie-break had to decide. There, Haas fended off one match ball from Federer and converted his fourth set point to take the set 10-8 in the tie-break.
Momentum had now completely swung in favor of 39-year old Haas, who broke Federer’s serve in the third set to take a 3-2 lead which he never relinquished. Haas had to face a few breakpoints but was ultimately able to hold his serve. In the end, he easily served the match out and took the third set 6-4. He will now face Mischa Zverev in the quarterfinal.
After the match Haas said that this win “certainly is one of the highlights of my career”. When he trailed 1-2 in the second with a break he was more or less out of the tournament. Then he somehow managed to re-break Federer “and then I could play free and relaxed. I even managed to fend off a match ball.”
Federer praised his friend after the match: “I knew it would be tough against him. I was surprised that he didn’t play serve and volley at all. I was waiting for that until the final point. But it didn’t come. Maybe that worried me too much.” Federer also said that “not everything about my play was bad. I had some good moments, but maybe not the great moments I would have liked to have. I made some big mistakes and didn’t read some plays well enough.”
Haas however has now doubt that Federer will return to old strength: “He is probably the greatest player of all time. But he lacked the match experience after a 10-week break. I’m sure he is happy for me. It’ll only motivate him more for the tournament in Halle and he will be back stronger.” At the end of the press conference after the match Federer even had all the laughs on his side. After observing that Haas’ six year old daughter Valentina had cheered her dad on big time throughout the match he said: “Maybe I’ll take two of my kids to Halle. And then four to Wimbledon. That should give me an advantage.”