ATP Stuttgart: Roger Federer overcomes a slow start to beat Mischa Zverev


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ATP Stuttgart: Roger Federer overcomes a slow start to beat Mischa Zverev

World number 2 and the winner of 17 ATP titles on grass Roger Federer has earned his 165th triumph on the fastest surface after a hard-fought 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over Mischa Zverev in an hour and 33 minutes. These two have met for the sixth time and Mischa has finally managed to win the set against the great Swiss, although it wasn't enough to beat Roger and deliver the third straight loss for Federer for the first time since 2002! Roger hasn't played since that second round loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis in Miami and he struggled to find his rhythm against the German who played a decent match, leaving that 6-0 6-0 loss to Roger in Halle five years ago behind him to stay competitive all the time.

Federer recovered his game a little bit after dropping the opening set and he clinched the win with two breaks of serve in the final set to reach the quarters, finishing the match with a return winner in game eight. Roger faced five break points and Mischa broke him twice after winning respectable 31% of the return points.

Nonetheless, that would good enough only for one set, giving Roger 10 break chances and suffering four breaks that drifted him away from the finish line. The Swiss created two break points in the very first game of the match, denied by two winners from Mischa who made a hold after a forehand winner at the net.

Federer kept the pressure on his rival on the return in game five as well but Zverev refused to give his serve away, firing two more winners and bringing it home after six deuces and almost eight minutes. Roger lost just two points on serve in the opening three service games but he had to pay the price for these break points he wasted, losing serve at love in game eight after two winners from Mischa and his poor volley at the net.

A left-handed German delivered a hold at love in game nine for a 6-3 after a beautiful volley winner, claiming the last 10 games of the set to build a nice lead before the rest of the encounter. Facing an even bigger danger at the start of the second set, Roger saved a break point with a crafty volley winner at the net and he closed the game after three deuces with a forehand down the line winner.

We saw four straight holds at love before Roger stepped in on the return in game six, creating three break points and converting the last one with a return winner to move 4-2 ahead. Zverev took care for another twist in the tale in the following game, though, breaking back after a return winner and keeping his hopes of winning in straight sets alive.

Facing a possible second round exit for the second year in a row in Stuttgart, Roger delivered a great return game at 5-4, breaking Mischa at love for a 6-4, sending the match into a decider when he was the favorite now. With the momentum on his side, Federer lost just four points on serve in set number three and Mischa couldn't follow that pace, losing serve at love after a backhand down the line winner from Roger to seal his fate in this match.

Facing a break point in game seven, Federer hit a volley winner at the net and another forehand winner moved him closer to the finish line, leading 5-2 and forcing Zverev to serve to stay in the match. Mischa sent a volley long to give Roger a match point and the Swiss wrapped up a win with a forehand return winner to book his place in the quarters.

The 2nd seed and the defending champion Lucas Pouille needed just 50 minutes to dismiss the 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker 6-3 6-4 en route to the place in the quarters. The Frenchman fired 10 aces and he lost 11 points on serve, saving a lone break point to keep the pressure on the youngster who scored his maiden ATP win here.

Rudolf stayed on four aces and he got broken on both break points he faced to end his run in the second round. Lucas found the zone in his games right from the start, dominating with his serve and forehand, and he earned a break in game six after a deep return that Molleker failed to control.

Pouille lost just four points in five service games and he brought the opener home with three service winners in game nine after just 22 minutes. The German finally created some damage on the return in the fourth game of set number two but Lucas saved a break point with an unreturned serve, staying close to each other in the following games for a 4-4.

Pouille shifted into a higher gear in those moments and he broke at love in game nine when Rudolf hit a forehand long and he sealed the deal with an ace in game 10, rattling off 12 of the last 14 points for a solid win. Wednesday's results:

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