World number 1 and nine-time Halle champion Roger Federer is through to the quarter-final for the 16 times in as many appearances after a hard-fought 6-3 3-6 7-6 win over Benoit Paire in an hour and 58 minutes. This was the 61st win for Roger at one of his most favorite tournaments and his 23rd triumph in 25 matches played so far in 2018. In addition, Roger grabbed his 18th consecutive victory on grass and his 170th overall on the fastest surface, moving closer to the Open era record of Jimmy Connors who stands on 174.
This was their sixth meeting and the sixth win for Roger who has lost a set against Benoit for the first time before bouncing back in the third to claim the win in the deciding tie break. Paire really fought well, giving his best to stay focused and match Roger´s pace, saving two match points on serve in the 12th game before falling short in the tie break after having two match points at 6-5 and 7-6, finishing his Halle journey in the second round.
Federer will face Matthew Ebden in Friday´s quarter-final, who ousted the sixth seed and a former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber in three sets. It was important for Paire to stay in touch with Roger in the opening five or six games and he did well, serving well and creating a break point in game seven that Roger saved with a service winner, closing the game when Benoit sent a backhand long.
The Frenchman had a game point in the next game but Roger found the way to stay in contention and earn a break that pushed him 5-3 up, firing a service winner in game nine to wrap up the opener 6-3 in 27 minutes. Out of sudden, Roger´s level suddenly dropped in set number two, serving at 57% and losing almost 50% of the points in his games to find himself 4-0 down, a rare scene in his matches on grass.
He pulled one break back in game five but Benoit brought the set home with a powerful ace in game nine, setting up a deciding set for the first time against Roger. Paire saved a break point in game eight with a service winner and he faced an ultimate test at 5-6, having to play against two match points.
He fends them off with unreturned serves and the match went into a deciding tie break, the best possible way to determine the winner. Benoit led 5-3 and he created a match point at 5-5 with a backhand winner, only to be denied by a solid forehand attack from Roger that barely hit the line.
Another match point for Paire came at 7-6, this time on his serve, but Federer repelled it with a deep return that the Frenchman failed to control. In the end, Roger converted his third match point at 8-7 when Paire´s forehand landed long, surviving one of his toughest tests here in Halle ever and staying on the title defense course.
Second round results: