ThrowbackTimes Halle: Roger Federer tops Marat Safin for third straight title



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ThrowbackTimes Halle: Roger Federer tops Marat Safin for third straight title

Roger Federer debuted in Halle in 2000 at 18, finding the perfect test ground for Wimbledon and becoming the ultimate legend of this event in the past two decades. In 2003, the Swiss won the first ATP title on grass in Halle before confirming the supremacy on the fastest surface at Wimbledon, earning the first Major at the All England Club and repeating the Halle-Wimbledon double in 2004.

A few days after losing to Rafael Nadal in the semi-final at Roland Garros in 2005, Roger kicked off the sixth Halle campaign and defeated five solid players to grab the third straight crown at this event and extend the winning streak on the green surface.

In the first round, Roger barely escaped an early defeat against Robin Soderling, prevailing 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes after being two points away from the exit door twice. Robin led 7-6, 5-4, 30-15 and had a 5-4 advantage in the second set tie break before Federer won it 8-6 and brought the match home with a break in game ten in the decider after the young Swede's double fault.

The Swiss needed only 58 minutes to overpower Florian Mayer 6-2, 6-4 in round two, losing serve twice and delivering five breaks to control the scoreboard and march into the quarters where Philipp Kohlschreiber fell 6-3, 6-4 after 62 minutes.

Federer saved all three break points and stole the German's serve once in each set to enter the semis against another German and his friend Tommy Haas. Offering no break chances, Roger notched a 6-4, 7-6 victory, taking the second set tie break 11-9 to book a place in the third consecutive Halle final where he faced Marat Safin on June 12.

It was a chance for Federer to serve revenge after that epic encounter in the semi-final at the Australian Open five months earlier when Safin prevailed 9-7 in the decider after saving a match point to advance into the final after four and a half hours.

Roger Federer claimed the third straight Halle title in 2005 over Marat Safin.

The Russian gave his best to challenge Roger on grass as well, but the favorite proved to be too strong in a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 triumph in two hours and five minutes, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov as the second player with three Halle crowns.

Hitting 12 aces, Marat delivered better numbers behind the first serve. At the same time, the second let him down, getting broken three times and converting only one out of six opportunities on the return to push Federer over the top.

Nothing could separate them in the mid-range and more extended exchanges. On the other hand, Roger forged the victory in the most dominant area up to four strokes, delivering more service winners and doing more damage with the first strike after the initial shot, including volleys.

Also, Federer tamed his strokes more efficiently, committing fewer errors than Safin and finding a way to cross the finish line first. The Swiss kicked off the clash perfectly, holding at love and earning a break a few minutes later after Safin's backhand error.

Roger blasted three winners in game three to extend the lead before Marat pulled the break back at 1-3 after a colossal forehand mistake from the defending champion. After a reliable performance on both sides, Safin served to stay in the set at 4-5 and wasted a game point before spraying another error to suffer a break and hand the set to world no.

1. Marat was the better player in set number two, dropping seven points in six service games and never facing trouble to mount the pressure on Roger, who worked hard to repel four break points and set up a tie break that the Russian claimed 8-6.

Federer found the rhythm on return again in the decider, breaking Marat in game three and giving away only five points in the next four service games. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Roger produced an excellent hold to celebrate the title, the 29th on the Tour and the seventh in 2005 after Doha, Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and Hamburg.