Halle QF previews and predictions: Federer vs. Mayer, Zverev vs. Bautista Agut

Roger Federer took out one German hopeful in the Halle second round and he will be looking to do the same during quarterfinal action on Friday. Federer is facing Florida Mayer, while Alexander Zverev and Roberto Bautista Agut are also on the schedule.

(1) Roger Federer vs. Floridan Mayer

After this quarterfinal showdown at the Gerry Weber Open on Friday, exactly half (four of eight) of the lifetime meetings between Federer and Mayer will have come in Halle. This also marks their sixth collision in Germany, as the two veterans have also squared off in Hamburg (2013) and Stuttgart (2016). Federer is sweeping the head-to-head series 7-0, including 4-0 on grass and 15-1 in total sets. Mayer managed to be competitive on the slick stuff of Stuttgart last season, when he fell to Federer in a pair of tiebreakers 7-6(2), 7-6(1).

The defending Halle champion, Mayer saw his points from that title fly off the board on Monday and with that he plummeted 83 spots to No. 134 in the rankings. The 33-year-old was a horrendous 2-11 for his 2017 campaign prior to this week, but he punched a ticket to the quarterfinals with victories over Benoit Paire and recent Stuttgart winner Lucas Pouille. Federer is recovering nicely from a surprising Stuttgart setback at the hands of Tommy Haas, as the 35-year-old Swiss has so far cruised past Yuichi Sugita and Mischa Zverev. He is 21-2 this season and 56-6 lifetime in Halle. All signs point in another routine win for Federer at Mayer’s expense.

Pick: Federer in 2 with no tiebreakers

(7) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (4) Alexander Zverev

Zverev and Bautista Agut will be facing each other for the fourth time in their careers and for the second time this year. Having previously been 0-2 in the head-to-head series, Zverev recently scored a 7-5, 7-5 victory on the clay courts of Munich. The 20-year-old German went on to lift the trophy at that tournament for the third ATP title of his career. He later triumphed in Rome before suffering a first-round exit at the French Open to Fernando Verdasco. Perhaps not quite as comfortable on the lawn, Zverev has done well to advance this week with straight-set routs of Paolo Lorenzi and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Like the world No. 12, Bautista Agut is an all-court player who may be most comfortable on hard–followed by clay and then grass. The 19th-ranked Spaniard has been in fine form throughout 2017 on all surfaces, and so far in Halle he has taken out Carlos Berlocq and Dustin Brown in three sets (the latter in a final-set tiebreaker). Things have not been easy for Bautista Agut, and they will only get tougher on German soil with Zverev on the other side of the net.

Pick: Zverev in 2

57 Comments on Halle QF previews and predictions: Federer vs. Mayer, Zverev vs. Bautista Agut

    • I’d say Mayer has a 1% chance of winning in straight sets, but hey, that’s still a percent haha! Donskoy probably had a 0.0001% chance of beating Federer in Dubai, and he pulled it off, so why not Mayer!? 😉

  1. Fed not looking sharp, it’s quite surprising when he has three months off to practice and this is his fav surface. I don’t remember Rafa looking rusty on clay except when he’s just back from injury in early 2013.

    I think there are others playing better than him now on grass, in BO5 it’ll be tougher for him as a 35 yo and having to play and win seven matches.

    I really don’t understand how he’s being called the fave to win Wimbledon before we even see him play on grass.

    • It’s because no one else is more likely to win according to people placing bets.

      Oddsmakers had Murray originally but current form has been poor for the last six monthe. Djoko for a year now.

      He is only a slight favourite over Murray at the moment.

      Rafa is only slightly behind Murray and Rafa not past the 4th round since 2011!

      So it’s down to lack of an alternate, just like during the Weak Era (ok just a bit like).

      • The funny thing is, when it comes to clay, people are doubting Rafa and put Djoko ahead of him as fave to win, and, Djoko was fave to win the FO after he started beating Rafa on clay at the Masters, from 2011 onwards. However, when it comes to grass, it’s always Fed as the fave, even when he was beaten by Djoko at Wimbledon final for two consecutive years, and prior to that Fed only made the QF in 2010, 2011 before winning in 2012, and lost early in 2013. In 2016 Fed wasn’t any better when he almost lost to Cilic in the QF, and then lost to Raonic in the SF.

        The thing is, Djoko is/was better at Wimbledon than he is/was at the FO! He made four finals each at FO and Wimbledon, his success rate at FO is only 25% (1 out of 4 finals) but at Wimbledon his success rate is 75% (3 out of 4 finals). In fact he reached the final (and won, in 2011)at Wimbledon before he reached a final at the FO (in 2012).

    • The one thing the oddsmakers don’t take into account is the possibility of a dark horse breaking through and winning. Maybe not likely, but you never know. If any of the top four falter and get knocked out early, that could open the way for someone else.

      I normally would think of Kyrgios, but he’s been off and seems to be dealing with some niggling injuries. But someone like Cilic could take advantage. He’s been looking really sharp.

      I also don’t know that we can judge just by performances in the warm up tournaments. Murray crashed out early in all three clay Masters tournaments. Yet he had a good run to the semifinals. He will be motivated at Wimby as the defending champion and with a lot on the line. His early exit at Queens was not a good sign, but he still has a chance to play himself into good form at Wimby.

      Novak is a big question mark. I don’t see Stan being a serious contender to win this. Fed would be the obvious early favorite given his record at Wimby and how he’s played this year. I think he is working off the rust from his time off and a good result at Halle should help him to be ready for Wimby.

      Rafa is also a bit of an unknown right now.

      • I think Cilic could take advantage for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like a Cilic vs Federer final.

        • Well it all depends where in the draw Cilic ends up in, he may meet Fed as early as the QF, and I like his chance vs Fed, given how close he was in almost beating Fed last year. Cilic is looking very sharp now, building momentum through the clay season getting ready for grass the the quick HC season. Fed otoh, is looking rusty and may be more vulnerable than in the past.

          Another two players to look out for other than the big four are Dimi and Sasha; both looking good on grass right now.

    • He does look a bit rusty, but do we have an idea of how much time he would’ve actually spent on on-court practice? I can only guess, but I feel like Fed being Fed, compared to the average player, he would’ve spent most of his time resting and getting his body right for back-to-back five setters.

      True about the Rafa-clay comparison, although it’s a bit different, because as good as Fed is on grass, he doesn’t take to it/dominate it like Rafa does clay.

      Should Fed be the favourite? It’s a pretty even field at the moment, but I don’t think there’s a reason to rate anyone *ahead* of him. Murray and Nadal deserve to be right up there, but there are unknowns on them too – Murray’s form is a little iffy, and despite Rafa being red-hot recently, he has to translate it to grass, which brings the knees into play. I can see any of the three finding their range and winning it, but none of them are locks either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a guy like Cilic (or dare I utter it, a fit Kyrgios) suddenly made a run to the final.

        • It wasn’t at all long ago that he made the French semi, and people were declaring him ‘back’. Clearly the consistency is not there right now, but he is still good enough to improve his form match by match and go deep into Wimbledon. Same as he did at the French, except this time it’s his best slam. Unlike Novak, who I suspect is much more down on confidence/motivation and may have personal issues distracting him, I think Murray can re-capture his form pretty quickly, and what better place to do it than Wimby.

    • luckystar says AT 3:21 PM: “I really don’t understand how he’s being called the fave to win Wimbledon before we even see him play on grass.”
      It doesn’t matter who is bettors’ favourite. They have no influence on the outcome (unless they are involved in match-fixing). 😆

    • I didn’t think Roger looked bad at all. Mayer has some nice ground-strokes (esp. BH) and touch, and he hit some blistering ROSs. He did win the tournament last year.

      Roger served well and returned well enough. I was surprised at how much he sliced his returns, more like he used to, but I guess it is grass.

      Lucky, if this was Rafa on clay, I think you’d say: “He played well enough to win, and he has many levels he can go to if need be.” Also, Rafa looked a bit rusty in his first clay match this year against Kyle Edmund. At least he lost a set.

        • I’m watching Sascha va RBA and just watched Fed v Florian. Fed’s backhand return is weak – the one he had earlier this year made a rare appearance but not enough. His serve is his get out of jail card. And his experience. But let’s see how he survives vs the mighty Karen Khachanov. It will be a good test of his strength and wits. Then it’s either Richard or Sascha in the final, if he makes it, lol…

      • Nah, Joe, Fed doesn’t look that great and I sincerely don’t think he will do much better than this, maybe slightly better only. You talked about Rafa but Rafa didn’t look rusty against Kyle, he bageled Kyle in the first set, how was that being rusty?? I didn’t even think of Rafa ‘just doing enough to win’ at that time, you don’t be too smart and assumed how I feel!

        I thought Rafa was a bit nervous because it was the first time they met and he didn’t know how big Kyle’s FH was until Kyle started hitting it with full force from the second set onwards. I’ll never think that Rafa was rusty on clay, except in early 2013 when he was just back from seven months injury and was playing his first match during his comeback.

        As I mentioned, Rafa didn’t look rusty on clay his fave surface, but I’m surprised Fed looks rusty on grass his fave surface, after three months of rest and practice (and he’s not injured). Perhaps Fed’s knees are also a bit wonky on grass, though he’s still very quick, but he tumbled during his match vs Zverev. His timing of his shots still not so good at times, but it’s enough vs these guys who are not the main slam contenders.

      • And Joe, it’s clear to me Fed is still not playing well, and as I said, I doubt he can play much better, so no I don’t think he’s just playing enough to win. It’s not only a matter of rust, but to me something is off with him, mainly his timing of his shots.

        He’ll be facing big hitter next so let’s see can he still take the ball early and avoids being broken.

        • Why would you doubt Federer can play much better? That just sounds like your typical anti-Fed bias. I agree that his timing was off on a few shots, but Mayer was hitting the ball well, especially on the BH and off 2nd serve returns.

          Apart from sudden decline due to age, which is always possible at any time given Federer’s age, I don’t see any reason he can’t attain the level he reached in 2015 Wimby, where imo he choked the final away (his level against Murray in the SF was unbelievable). That 2015 level is much higher than he played against Mayer.

          • Joe, I think you’re the biased one here, whether it’s against Rafa, or in favor of Fed; funny that you’re the one who said that others are biased and yet can’t see that you’re guilty (of being biased yourself!).

            Why should you doubt Rafa on clay but when it come to Fed, you think the world of him regardless of how he plays??? He’s not even close to his 2015 level now, and I doubt he will. We’ll see….

            • Yeah, Lucky, but I asked you for a reason why you don’t think Fed can play much better, and you didn’t give me one. He was the best player in the world only a few months ago, so why would you think he *can’t* get back to that form? If you don’t have a reason, to me that’s bias, more a reflection of your hope than anything.

              I doubted Rafa at the beginning of the year, and up until the beginning of the clay court season. My reasons for thinking he wouldn’t attain his previous level -which was at least *three years* ago- mostly had to do with his reduced foot speed. I’m still not convinced that he’s not lost a step, but he’s obviously made corrections elsewhere in his overall game that make it comparable, at least on clay, to his very best, imo. Whether it translates to grass or HC remains to be seen.

              So: I was wrong about Rafa, but my view wasn’t bias -if that means holding a view without reason. I had a reason (reduced foot-speed) that many others shared. It turned out to be wrong, or not as important as we thought, at least on clay.

          • No doubt we’re all biased, most of which is unrecognized. But there is something inherently unstable about recognized bias. If you’re rational, and someone correctly points out that you hold a view for no reason, or no good reason, then you should abandon or modify the view.

            I’m simply asking Lucky for a reason why she thinks Federer won’t/can’t play much better than his current level. She may have one that’s at least minimally plausible, and then we may simply disagree. But I haven’t heard it yet.

            • Not really joe smith.

              People don’t always feel they have to justify their opinions all of the time or they might feel that a lot of the time that it will just fall on deaf ears so why bother.

              I’ve seen very few opinions swayed on Tennis forums joe smith including yours or my own so I’m not sure your point holds water

              Different strokes for different folks.

    • Practice means absolutely nothing when someone has been off the match court for that long. We’ve even seen players who were actively playing matches look great in practice yet couldn’t translate that practice form onto the match court… I think that anyone who plays no competitive matches for months will naturally take a little while to get into gear. But how bad is Federer really right now? He definitely doesn’t look as sharp as he did a few months ago, but he’s serving very well, not getting broken, and even facing very few break-points on his serve. He didn’t face a single break point yesterday if I’m not mistaken, and only faced two today. He can be converting his own break point opportunities better for sure, but we can’t expect him in his fourth match in 3 months to be perfect. I think he will either get better as Halle/Wimbledon goes on, or he falls short and it turns out that taking all that time off was actually detrimental. I actually think the latter is quite possible. When you play at such a consistently high level like he did in the first quarter of the year and then just suddenly stop for like 2 1/2 months, I think it will be very difficult to get right back to that level.

      As far as him being labeled the favorite by people, I think that has more to do with the lack of level of the other proven players than it does his own level. Like you were saying, he’s only played 4 matches on grass, so there’s not much to go on in terms of his grass level. I was under the impression that Murray was considered the favorite until he lost his first match at Queens, which I agreed with. If Federer is really being called the favorite now, then that doesn’t really surprise me because it will now be hard to favor a guy who has not only had a lackluster season, but is also going into Wimbledon with only one single grass match which was a loss. Federer, on the other hand, will go into Wimbledon with at least 3 grass wins even if he loses his Halle semifinal. That means that Federer has had a better grass lead-up than Murray, is a defending major champion this season, has played at a better level than Murray all season, has more top-ten wins than Murray this season, etc. So I don’t see what reason there is anymore to have Murray favored over Federer, aside from him being the defending champion. Federer has also owned Murray in h2h for years now. As far as Djokovic is concerned, I honestly have no idea what to expect from him. For me personally, even though he has sucked for a while now, I personally would consider him an equal favorite for this Wimbledon with Federer, given the fact that he won 2 of the last 3 years and beat Federer both times. If Federer wasn’t coming back from such a long lay-off and was looking a bit sharper right now, then I would probably have to consider him the favorite, although still not by much. But for now I think that Federer, Rafa, and Djokovic all should be considered equal favorites because all three of them have respective question marks going into Wimbledon. For Fed, its potential rust and lack of match play. For Novak, it’s that he has sucked since the first week of the season and wasn’t great long before that. For Rafa, it’s that we just don’t know how he will be on grass given that his results have been poor there for years.

      So me personally? Right now, at this moment, I think that it is just too close to say anything more than all four of the Big 4 have equal chances at Wimbledon. There’s just too many variables and question marks for all of them. However, I may change my mind once I’ve seen all that Federer and Djokovic have to offer before Wimbledon. That’s my take!

      • Kevin, that’s the thing about Djoko. He was called the fave for RG for many years now, but despite him being three times champion at Wimbledon beating Fed there the last two times they met, Fed still edged him where being regarded as a fave is/was concerned, at least by many.

        You talked about Fed’s serve but that’s exactly the main thing that kept him out of troubles for so long now in his career, even when other parts of his game may fail him (during those bad times in his career). I was looking at his game, his usual court craft and his serve were there, but his timing wasn’t great at times. I feel against a big server on grass will be a big test for him, not these players (both Zverev and Mayer) who played the usual grass court game which he himself is familiar with, when he’s able to rush them taking the ball early and stepping inside the court. Perhaps A Zverev will be a good test for him, one who serves big and hits with depth, so making it a bit more uncomfortable for Fed to take the ball early, provided A Zverev can get past Gasquet in the SF.

        • Sascha is like Thiem — camped out too far behind the baseline. He got away with it in the end, vs RBA; but the court position isn’t good — he was being bossed by RBA too much of that match. Will be interesting to see how it goes with Gasquet.

          • But Zverev did beat Fed on grass last year; RBA did play well, even coming forward to the net at times, and he’s one who could run the whole day!

            A Zverev has to beat Gasquet first, and Gasquet plays well on grass, I won’t be surprised that Gasquet beats Zverev to reach the final here and so we may not have a A Zverev vs Fed final. Fed shouldn’t have any problem with Khachanov, who’s not as good as A Zverev.

            • Wasn’t something wrong with Federer last year? Yeah I remember Halle — I liked the match! I can’t remember when Fed’s surgery and all that was. Seemed like it went on and on.

              Gasquet is finding some form. Zverev beat Gasquet once, not long ago on indoor hc, I think. I can see Gasquet giving Sascha all kinds of trouble.

            • Fed was rusty as crap. Still Zverev plays well on grass and will be tough in the final for Fed if he makes it.

            • Well Khachanov has improved since he was beaten by Sascha in St. Petersburg. I’m excited to see the SF’s!

        • I agree with you, Lucky. The serve is there for the most part as usual, but the rest is a bit off. He’s struggling to convert break points and serve out matches as well. I honestly think that the grass is so different than the hardcourts that he’s struggling to find his rhythm now that he’s on the match court. The ball is skimming into him faster, so it makes sense that he is struggling with the timing because of that. Like I said yesterday, I think he will either adjust better to the quickness/slickness of the grass as he goes through the Wimby draw, or he will just end up falling short because he can’t move well enough on the turf to get into position, or can’t properly time his swing or whatever.

          Honestly, I’ve felt all along since Miami ended that he could do more damage in the summer hardcourt season, assuming he can continue the hardcourt form he showed at the beginning of the season. I was really unsure about how playing all that hardcourt tennis, followed by 2 1/2 months of no matches whatsoever, could affect him when just suddenly came back in grass courts. I thought this because he not only came back completely rusty with match-play, but he came back completely rusty of match-play on a very different surface to what his last matches were all on. So we’ll see how he ends up doing at Wimbledon, but I have personally felt all along that I like his chances at the US Open better than at Wimbledon. And he will need to be at his best at US Open because Rafa will obviously be gunning for a win there big time!

      • Kevin says AT 11:55 PM: “If Federer is really being called the favorite now, then that doesn’t really surprise me…”

        ‘Being called the favourite’ = most bettors have put their money on him.

      • Kevin, it’s possible that Fed lost his form due to his few months layoff, but unlikely, given that a much longer layoff last year didn’t do him any harm. Amongst the big four, he’s (imo) the clear favourite at this point. Novak is lost, Federer has owned Murray for years, and Nadal is simply unproven on grass at this point, given his poor results the last five years. I think it is more likely Fed will lose to someone other than those three, than lose to one of them at Wimby this year.

        • Actually he was rusty at the beginning of the year too.

          Took several matches to shake off the rust which is much faster than anyone else.

          Expecting tsame on grass.

  2. I really, really hope we get a Federer-Zverev final in Halle… I really think that match could be great, and be a toss-up. I actually think that Zverev is legitimately a contender for the Wimbledon title this year, so both he and Fed would do well to get a win over the other right before Wimbledon! We know what Federer has done this season, and Zverev has gotten much better since this time last year, so I think it could be epic if they meet in the Halle final… There is also a revenge factor for Federer for last year at Halle, as well as Sascha wanting to avenge his brother’s defeats at the hands of Fed. Ah I hope we get it! 🙂

    • I doubt the players are thinking of revenge out there, all they care for is to win the match. It’s only fans of the players who think of revenge and things like that.

      For me as a Rafa fan, it’s not about revenge that I think of for Rafa, but it’s about him gaining confidence over those who beat him before, and getting positive h2hs vs anyone, in addition to all the importance of winning matches and titles.

      • I think Zverev is capable of giving Fed a match in the final. We may get a better idea if where Fed is at when he’s up against Zverev.

        As far as Fed being the favorite for Wimby, that’s all well and good. But I just am not going to give him the title before a single match has been played and before the draw has come out.

        Murray’s chances took a hit with his early exit at Queens, but he didn’t look good before RG. Nobody was picking him to get to the semis. Certainly no one would have picked him to go further than Novak. But it’s a mistake to completely write him off. He’s got a lot on the line at Wimby. His hone country’s slam, defending 2000 points and maybe even the #1 ranking. He will be short on match play with the early exit at Queens, but again he had a similar problem going into RG. He can play himself into form at Wimby.

        Novak is a big question mark after the way he lost to Thiem at RG. He has lost the will to win and compete. I don’t know if he can find it again at Wimby. He would normally be one of the favorites, but not given his record so far this year.

        Rafa hasn’t played on grass for two years. His knees have to hold up. The first week is crucial with the slippery grass conditions and also who he faces in the draw in the early rounds

        There could be a few surprises in this Wimby,

      • Yes, it’s true that the fans probably care more about the revenge aspect than the players. But anyone who has played competitive sports in their life knows that beating someone/some team who beat you the last time you played them feels very, very good. 🙂 Of course the professionals would never openly admit it to the press, but there’s no question that these guys are like all other humans in that it feels great to overcome the challenge of beating someone who beat you last time. Winning feels great no matter who it’s against, and that’s all these players generally say. But if someone beat you last time, that can only add to the challenge that comes when playing anyone.

        As for the final tomorrow, I honestly think it’s a toss-up. I’m not willing to say that Federer has an edge. This is Zverev’s home country, his ideal surface, he’s playing very well, AND he beat Federer here last year. Even though Federer is one of the all-time grass greats, he doesn’t seem to be at the level he was earlier this season. I think this is actually Federer’s chance to show that he can defeat a legitimate Wimbledon contender on grass. It would only help his confidence if he wins. And for Zverev, this is his chance to prove that he really IS a legitimate Wimbledon contender, and that beating Fed on grass last year was not a fluke. So I think this is a pretty crucial match for both of them, as they are both real contenders for the Wimbledon title, among others of course… The one prediction I will make for this match is that I think it should go 3 sets. Beyond that, I’m not confident enough to choose a winner with this one- it’s that close, imo.

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