Competing in his 215th ATP match on grass, the ten-time Halle champion Roger Federer defeated Ilya Ivashka 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 34 minutes for his 69th victory at one of his favorite events. It was Federer's seventh match since the last year's Australian Open, and he had to work hard to topple the Belarusian.
Ilya played only his fifth encounter on the fastest surface on the ATP level and stayed in touch with a great champion until the closing stages of the second set, when he suffered the only break. Ivashka lost only five points behind the initial shot in the entire opening set, and he still lost it in the tie break despite a massive chance at 2-1.
Ilya held at love in the opening game for a strong start and repeated that in game three to stay in front. Federer sprayed a backhand error in the next to face two break chances, fending them off to avoid the setback and closing the game after two deuces to level the score.
Roger Federer beat Ilya Ivashka in two tight sets in the opening round in Halle.
Both players served well in the rest of the set, and it was a tie break to decide the winner of the opener. The Swiss opened it with a mini-break and moved 2-1 up with a forehand winner.
Ivashka netted an easy backhand in the fourth point to fall further down and pushed Roger 4-1 up following a forehand mistake. A volley winner sent the defending champion 6-1 ahead, and he closed the set with another good volley at the net at 6-4.
The crowd favorite secured the second set's opening game with a service winner before the Belarusian held after deuce to stay on the positive side. There was nothing to separate them, and Federer clinched the ninth game with a forehand winner to send the pressure to the other side.
Ivashka faced a match point in the tenth game with the nerves showing up and repelled it with a volley winner to stay alive. The Belarusian forced Federer's backhand error to bring the game home and extend his chances of reaching another tie break.
Staying focused, Federer secured the first and only break at 6-5 after Ivashka's forehand error to move over the top and reach the second round.