Seeking the tenth crown in Halle, Roger Federer was the favorite against Borna Coric in 2018 despite not playing at his best in the previous rounds. Despite winning eight points less than Roger, Borna prevailed 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to claim his first ATP 500 title, heading to Halle with only two ATP wins on grass and leaving it with a notable trophy!
Borna became the sixth-youngest player who defeated Roger Federer on grass and the sixth who scored a win over him in a grass-court final, after Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was a severe loss for Roger who controlled the pace with his first serve and the shortest rallies, forging a massive advantage over his opponent.
Besides, Federer fired no less than 70 winners in 97 points won overall, combined with 40 errors. Coric managed to tame his shots nicely, hitting 49 winners and spraying 27 mistakes to stay in touch with the Swiss and overpower him in the decider to celebrate one of his career-best wins.
Federer won 33% of the return points but not the ones that mattered the most, converting one of four break chances and getting broken twice from three opportunities offered to Borna.
Federer was the dominant figure in the opening two sets, dropping just 12 points on serve and keeping the pressure on Coric, including three set points in the opener that proved to be the crucial part of the encounter.
The youngster deserves credit for surviving all the challenges in the opener, finding his A-game after the second set to emerge as a deserved winner against the toughest possible rival on this surface. Roger fired 40 service winners and 30 more from the court, most from his volley and forehand.
Borna did his best to stay aggressive and not let Federer dictate the points, landing 28 unreturned serves and 21 winners from the court, including ten from his forehand that worked like a charm. Roger built a massive 21 points advantage in the winners department, making fewer unforced errors (17 to 19) and forcing Borna to give his best in the area of the forced mistakes to gain some ground and cut the deficit if he wanted to stay competitive.
He did that in style, hitting eight forced errors while Roger counted to 22, with the Swiss missing equally from both wings and not being able to match the rival's pace from the baseline in those points, especially in the more extended exchanges.
Federer had the upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes (67-52), mainly thanks to those service winners, and a 24-20 advantage in the mid-range rallies from five to eight strokes. It gave him an enormous 91-72 lead in the exchanges shorter than nine strokes and Coric had to dig deep in the more challenging battles to bypass that shortage, winning 17 of the 23 longest points to hang in and forge his triumph after a brilliant performance in the final set.