- Gerry Weber Open
Federer claims sixth Halle crown
Roger Federer will head into the defence of his Wimbledon crown on a high after the Swiss claimed a sixth Gerry Weber Open title at the expense of Mikhail Youzhny.
The world No. 3 had yet to win a title this season, but the record 17-time grand slam champion goes into SW19 full of confidence after he dropped the first set to come back and win 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4.
Federer ousted champion Tommy Haas in the semi-finals on Saturday after losing the opening set, and once again the Swiss demonstrated his battling qualities to deny Youzhny a first career win in 15 meetings.
Federer lost in the Rome Masters final to Rafael Nadal, and halfway through the campaign the empty 2013 trophy cabinet was beginning to become a concern for him. Those concerns have now disappeared as he avoided defeat in an eighth final at Halle to win the competition for the first time since 2008.
With such a dominant record over Youzhny, top seed Federer fired at the start of the final to win the first three points on his opponent's serve. However, the Russian did not crumble as he saved four break points to move a game in front.
Federer conveyed a contrast in holds by making it 1-1 to love, but Youzhny began to improve on his serve as an ace clinched the third game and the lead once again.
Youzhny with a wide forehand was unable to convert his first break opportunity of the contest and allowed Federer to level, and the former was now starting to grow in confidence thanks to a fine winner down the line.
It was Federer who felt the pressure of playing catch-up in the set, and a double fault opened the door for Youzhny at 15-30. But, with the aid of two aces Federer quickly slammed it shut to make it 3-3.
The following four games were shared between the pair, and Federer failed to take advantage with a crucial break to lead 6-5. When Youzhny held to lead by that score line, his break point was one for the set, but with a serve out wide Federer thwarted the Russian and forced a tiebreak.
And the tiebreak swung one way and then the other as both players raised their level. Youzhny secured the mini break at 4-3 when Federer over hit a backhand and opened a two-point lead, but the Swiss rallied back to get to 5-5.
However, the momentum of the world No. 3 was halted when he hit the net, and with a second set point to his name, Youzhny clinched the set with a volley to seize the initiative.
A lapse in concentration from Federer handed Youzhny the opening set, but the Wimbledon champion erased the sloppy errors and turned into a force in the second - producing brilliant cross-court winners and not dropping points in three of his first four service games.
A run of eight consecutive points enabled Federer to break at 5-3 as he capitalised on serving first in the set, and with it the 31-year-old sent the final into a decider.
Both players were strong on their serve in the final set, but for only the second time in the match Youzhny struggled on his in the seventh game, and on the back of consecutive love services Federer pounced by digging a backhand down the line.
And with the break in the bag Federer closed out the win to get his hands on a first trophy of the season, and a sixth on the grass courts of Halle.