On this day: Roger Federer destroys Mardy Fish to defend Halle title



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On this day: Roger Federer destroys Mardy Fish to defend Halle title

Roger Federer had won the first title in Halle in 2003 (his first on grass surface) and a lot had changed until his next visit to pre-Wimbledon event, becoming world no. 1 in February 2004 and lifting two Grand Slam trophies.

The Swiss was the top favorite to defend the title and did that in style, dropping 26 games in five encounters to lift the 16th ATP title and send a clear message to his rivals ahead of Wimbledon. In the opening round, Roger took down Thomas Johannson 6-3, 6-2 in 69 minutes, fending off six out of seven break points and delivering four breaks for the best possible start before an even more convincing 6-2, 6-1 triumph in exact 69 minutes.

Federer lost only 13 points on serve and converting five out of 14 opportunities to control the scoreboard from start to finish and advance into the quarters, toppling Arnaud Clement 6-3, 7-5 there to stay on the title course.

This match lasted three minutes longer than the previous two because of that second set and Roger was too good again, never facing a break point and stealing the Frenchman's serve once in each set to book the place in the last four.

Jiri Novak was not the one who could have matched Roger's pace on fast grass court, with the Swiss storming over the Czech 6-3, 6-4 in 53 minutes with another flawless performance to set the final clash against Mardy Fish.

On June 13, Roger delivered another masterclass performance to leave the coeval far behind, securing an even more one-sided 6-0, 6-3 win than a year ago when he allowed Nicolas Kiefer to take four games. It was the sixth ATP final for Fish (winning just one title), already competing for the title on grass in Nottingham a year earlier and also in Cincinnati on fast hard court in the summer of 2003.

The American had left his booming serves in the locker room that day versus Roger, though, landing only 55% of the first serve in and finishing the match with just three aces. Federer was all over Fish on the return, taking more than half of those points to score four breaks from seven opportunities, giving away only nine points behind the initial shot to stay in front all the time and claim the second straight title in Halle.

As the result suggests, Roger was in front in every department, hitting more winners, forcing more errors and spraying fewer unforced errors than Mardy, demolishing the American in the mid-range and those rare more extended exchanges to finish a perfect day at the office in 57 minutes!

Federer held at love in the first game to kick off the action and mounted the pressure on Fish instantly, converting the second break chance in game two to forge an early lead that gave him all the momentum. Unable to find the rhythm, Mardy sprayed a backhand error in game four to fall further behind, taking only two points on the return in the entire set and allowing Roger to deliver a bagel with another break in game six after a backhand winner.

Fish finally started to play better in set number two, staying in touch until game six when Roger moved ahead with a break, cementing the advantage with a hold at love that pushed him 5-2 up. Serving to stay in the match in game eight, the American held after three deuces to reduce the deficit and prolong his chances before Federer held after deuce a few minutes later thanks to a volley winner to bring the encounter home and begin title celebration.