June 25, 2019
The evergreen Roger Federer won his tenth Halle title and the extraordinary Andy Murray won the doubles at Queen’s. Wimbledon Warm-Up begins.
Both legends are genuine contenders to lift silverware at Wimbledon, which starts in a week.
It is all too perfect, isn’t it? The timing displayed by Federer and Murray has always been exquisite, of course.
But have we ever seen Roger or Andy display timing quite like this?
When you take into account Federer’s age – he will soon be thirty-eight – his achievement at Halle was simply sensational.
And here is the wonderful thing. No one appreciated what he had done more than Federer himself after his 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 victory at his happiest of hunting grounds.
The great man shook his head with almost childish disbelief. He knows this isn’t normal, that he and we had no right to expect title 102.
But here we are anyway. Tennis dreamland.
And it was entirely deserved. Was it the awesome baseline defence that helped Federer close out on match point?
Or maybe the perfection of that sliced return earlier in the contest, the one that was stone dead by the time it landed on the grass on his opponent’s side of the net?
David Goffin wore an expression of anguish on his face. Admiration too, on some level. But you could tell what Goffin was thinking. ‘The man is unplayable at times.’
And he is right. Federer is still a magician. Still ready to wow the Wimbledon crowds, still one of the very best players in the world.
Only Rafael Nadal has won more titles at a single venue. Only Jimmy Connors, with 109, has won more titles overall.
But Federer isn’t done yet. Expect more heroics as he goes deep into the second week at Wimbledon. He will give everything to win another title at the home of tennis.
Expect more thrills from the great men. Federer and Murray.
Both back on song. How lucky are we? When are we going to wake up?
The Fever Tree Championships at Queen’s Club this past week seemed a touch surreal.
The combined age of the two singles finalists on Sunday was 71 yrs, Gilles Simon being 34 and Feliciano Lopez 37.
They had both played long and gruelling matches coming up to the final, Lopez having spent almost five hours on court the previous day, beating the up-and-coming 18-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime followed by winning two doubles matches to also reach the doubles final.
The singles final was probably the best and most exciting in many years at the Championships, with Lopez finally coming through in the tie-break in the final set. There were long and beautifully-crafted points, with Lopez, in old-style fashion, making many successful forays to the net.
One wondered how he would even move in the doubles final. As he said in his victory speech, “The match is Andy’s responsibility”! Yes, he was talking about his good friend and doubles partner, Andy Murray.
And Andy was up to the task. It seemed incredible that he was able to clinch the title alongside the Spaniard, having not played a competitive match since the Australian Open back in January. There were some nail-biters along the way, starting with beating the first seeds in the opening round, the Colombians Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian
Cabal in straight sets. They also went on to beat another seasoned pair, third-seeded John Peers and Henri Kontinen.
In the final they were pitted against another experienced duo, Rajeev Ram and fellow Brit. Joe Salisbury. Surely, they couldn’t pull off another Houdini act? And yet they did, in yet another mammoth match, winning 10-5 in the final tie-break, to roars from the crowd and to hugs and near-disbelief in the Murray camp.
So, where does Murray go from here?
He has, of course, had most success in singles events although he has also had some great victories, pairing up with his brother Jamie, in Davis Cup ties.
He isn’t rushing into singles, wisely sticking to doubles to test out that newly-resurfaced hip which has caused him so much pain.
But this could be an exciting renewed career. Andy is not just a great player but he’s also chess-like in his thinking and precision, a particularly essential skill in doubles.
Incredibly, he is now considering a singles comeback at the US Open but he won’t commit the folly of putting too much pressure on that now-famous hip too early.
He’ll be partnering another doubles veteran, the Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Hubert at Wimbledon and is hunting around for a female partner for the mixed doubles.
In the absence of that familiar Murray limp, he looks lean, smiling and somehow younger.