Roger Federer made his first steps on the beloved grass at Queen's in 1999, but from 2000 he preferred to go to Halle, reaching the quarter-final in that first appearance in this German town where he would get his own street some 15 years later.
In 2001, Roger advanced to the last 8 in Halle once again, beating David Prinosil by 7-6 7-5 in the second round, and that match is the subject of our analysis. This was their second meeting (Roger will beat David in the same round in Halle in 2002 as well) and young Swiss had to work hard to knock out the defending champion, who loved to play on the fast grass and carpet surfaces.
This was only the 6th ATP tournament on grass for talented teenager and it was clear that he was destined for success on green surfaces, with booming serves, great movement, attacking game and textbook volleys, and he will prove that a few weeks later at Wimbledon as well, where he dethroned the undisputed king Pete Sampras.
As was expected from attacking players on fast, low-bouncing surface, we saw the merciless fight and short points with only a few shots, a lot of service winners and also volleys, both using every opportunity to strike first and impose their shots.
The match lasted only an hour and 18 minutes and just 12 points passed the 4th shot mark, with no rallies longer than 8 strokes. 39% of all points ended with a service winner, which also took significant time out from the total match length, and it was a nice and floating encounter, with a lot of fine shots on both sides and only 14 unforced errors.
Prinosil served at only 49% but he gave his best to prolong the match as much as possible, saving 2 out of 3 break points and wasting a set point in the first set tie break. Nonetheless, he struggled on his second serve more than Roger, mainly due to the fact that he had 9 double faults, 7 in the second set and 3 in the final game of the match when he got broken.
Roger lost just 16 points on serve and he faced 1 break point in the 9th game of set number 2, serving without any troubles in the remaining games to keep the pressure on his rival. Prinosil had 31 service winners and Federer followed him with 28, and Swiss made a significant difference with the winners from the court, firing 27 while David stayed on 19.
Roger had 13 volley winners, followed by 7 from his backhand wing, while the German was most efficient from his volley and forehand. There was simply no time for too many unforced errors, Roger stayed on 6 and David counted to 8, and the number of forced errors was just a little bit bigger, with 12 for Federer and 8 for Prinosil.
Nothing could separate the rivals in those 4 elements (Roger won 3 points more), but Prinosil was plagued by double faults in set number 2, and they were the main reason he failed to reach another tie break and maybe a chance to force the deciding set.
As we already said, it was a lightning fast match and 92% of the points ended in the shortest range with a maximum number of 4 strokes. They were rushing to the net all the time and that big number of service winners also helped to keep the points quick.
Federer had a 72-66 advantage in them and he also won 8 out of 12 longest rallies to emerge as a deserved winner and set the quarter-final clash with Patrick Rafter. It took them less than 15 minutes to wrap up the first 6 games, with just 6 points for the returners and no exchanges longer than 4 shots.
Federer hit 2 winners in game 7 to reach the first deuce on the return but he was denied by 2 winners from David who moved 4-3 in front. Next time around Swiss was even more dangerous, firing 2 return winners to earn the first break point in game 9, and David fends it off with a service winner, bringing the game home with a volley winner to stay in the lead.
They both served well in the remaining games to set up a tie break after some 30 minutes (Roger lost 4 points in 6 service games so far) and it was a tight one, containing 18 points. A return winner gave Prinosil a healthy 4-2 lead before Federer grabbed the next 4 points to create a 6-4 gap, scoring 2 mini-breaks with return winners of his own.
David saved them both and another one at 6-7, and he had a set point at 8-7 after a double fault from Roger. Nonetheless, Federer took the next 3 points to close the breaker by 10-8 after a costly forehand error from Prinosil.
German had an 18-16 lead in service winners but Swiss had the upper hand in the winners from the field, with 14-9. Prinosil had 7 unforced errors compared to 3 from Federer, who on the other hand committed more forced errors, 6-4.
The set could have gone to either side but Roger won 5 points more than his rival and he was the better player overall, holding serve more efficiently than his rival. After 2 good holds at the start of set number 2, Prinosil struck 2 return winners to move 30-0 up on the return in game 3 but Federer held in style, hitting 4 winners to maintain the lead.
The 4th game saw a deuce on Prinosil's serve after 2 double faults but he got out of troubles with 2 winners to stay on the same level with Roger. Federer missed 2 volleys in game 7 but he found 4 good serves for another hold, and he reached another deuce on the return in game 8 thanks to a couple of return winners.
David stayed calm and he brought the game home with 2 winners, earning his only chance on the return in the following game. He returned the first 5 Roger's serves in that 9th game to create the first break point but that was all he could do, as Federer found his serve again to hit 3 winners and get out of jail for a 5-4.
2 holds at 15 propelled Roger into a 6-5 lead, and David served to stay in the match for the second time. He had no troubles in game 10 but this time it wasn't that easy, especially not after unacceptable 3 double faults that he made.
He netted a volley to give Roger 2 match points, and Swiss didn't have to do much to convert the second, with Prinosil sealing his fate after the 9th double fault since the start of the match. Winners couldn't make the difference in this set, with a 13-12 advantage for David in service winners and 13-10 for Roger in the direct points from the field.
Federer made more errors, 3-1 in unforced and 6-4 in forced, and it really all came down to those 3 double faults from Prinosil in the last game of the match.
Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: