• Gerry Weber Open

Federer turns back on Queen's with Halle lifetime deal

ESPN staff
June 8, 2010
Roger Federer is aiming for a seventh Wimbledon title © Getty Images
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Roger Federer has signed a deal to attend the Gerry Weber Open for the rest of his career, meaning he will never grace Queen's club unless there is a scheduling change.

Federer began his Wimbledon preparations in familiarly winning style in Halle on Tuesday, beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-4 in a performance that highlighted a potential weakness for opponents to exploit in the weeks to come. Losing nine of 14 points behind his second serve, the world No. 2 needed to maintain a 75 percent first-serve success rate to see off his Finnish opponent.

Federer has always been an advocate of Halle, a tournament that boasts a roof and has seen the Swiss emerge victorious on five occasions. As a build-up to Wimbledon, Federer prefers no other tournament, and he confirmed as much on Tuesday with his unusual signing of a 'lifetime deal'.

"I'm delighted, it feels a bit like I am getting married," joked Federer. "I wanted to plan more long-term. I want to build up friendships and I get on really well with (organisers) Ralf and Gerhard Weber."

Federer was given a tough test by Nieminen, who created the first two break points of the match. It was the six-time Wimbledon champion who made the crucial breakthrough though, claiming the ninth game before serving out for the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern with Federer landing one further break, but with his serve functioning to maximum effect that was all that was needed to advance to the next round.

Federer's biggest challenge in Germany could come from No. 2 seed Nikolay Davydenko, who made a successful return from a wrist injury to beat home favourite Simon Greul 7-6(1) 6-0. Davydenko had not featured on a tennis court since the middle of March, missing the French Open in the process.

The Russian seemed to slip back into gear comfortably after a tough first set against Greul, which saw both men break as Davydenko initially appeared to lack confidence when snapping his wrist through the serve. A one-sided tiebreaker seemed to help him settle, and he dropped only three points on serve to rattle off the second.

No. 3 seed Mikhail Youzhny was the biggest-name casualty on Tuesday after he was beaten 4-6 6-1 7-5 by Nicolas Kiefer. German favourite Kiefer was handed a Wimbledon wildcard earlier in the day, and he celebrated it by banging down 19 aces on his way to victory.

Also through to the second round are Jurgen Melzer, Marco Chiudinelli, Andreas Beck, Mischa Zverev and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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