Top-seeded Roger Federer stayed on course for a 10th Halle crown in 2019 despite a huge second-round scare. Roger advanced to the quarterfinals of the 17th edition of Halle after a hard-fought 7-6 4-6 7-5 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in two hours and 16 minutes.
Playing each other for the first time since Monte-Carlo 2016, Federer had to give his best to notch the first victory over Tsonga since 2014. He also avenged that terrible loss at Wimbledon 2011, when he went two sets to love in front.
As against Millman in the first round, it was not the most excellent performance from the best grass-court player of the Open Era, who converted a point more than Jo-Wilfried and faced seven break chances. The Frenchman only converted two of them, coming back from a set and a break down and remaining in command until the decisive game of 5-5 in the third.
Roger got one last break to take the last step towards victory and avoid an early exit. Tsonga hit 15 aces for 46 winners, followed by 31 unforced errors. The Swiss held to a 35-19 ratio and kept his focus in the decisive moments to emerge on top.
The return player only took one point in the opening four games before Federer struggled on serve at 2-2.
Cilic on beating King Roger
Marin Cilic said that his match against Roger Federer in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open was the best he has ever played.
"I mean, considering everything, against Roger in US Open, because, you know, prior to our match, Novak lost to Kei, and then Roger also hasn't won I think in two years prior to that any Grand Slams, and also the crowd that I was faced against, you know, they were cheering obviously for Roger, full stadium.
And to do it on such a level, it was, yeah, probably the best," Cilic said. The Croat said that it was a "fantastic achievement" for him to be one of only five active players to have reached the semifinals or better in all Grand Slams.
"Yeah, I mean, absolutely fantastic achievement for me," Cilic said. "To be, I think they mentioned to me, you know, just among them, I'm one of the only active guys with four semifinals or better on Grand Slams.
I would say last few years coming back from 2017, I started to feel great on clay and had some great success. But, you know, in the end it's also such a short season for clay, it's difficult to time everything every single season," Cilic added.