Roger Federer going for seventh ATP Gerry Weber Open title
The Swiss star has a superb record at the ATP 250 grass-court tournament in Halle, triumphing five times in six years between 2003 and 2008.
He subsequently added a sixth title 12 months ago when by coming from a set down to usurp Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4, in what would prove to be his solitary ATP title in 2013.
Now, the 32-year-old is aiming to start his grass-court season with a seventh success in Germany, but with an impressive field that includes world number on Rafael Nadal he is under no illusions about the difficulty of that task.
“The road to tournament victory has gotten much more difficult in recent years,” he told the tournament’s official website. “There are so many top players in the field.
“The spectators can look forward to an extremely strong tournament, I am certain of that.”
Having seen his clay-court season end in a disappointing fourth-round exit to Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis at the French Open, Federer stated his focus was already on the grass in the aftermath of that defeat, as well as his belief he can triumph at Wimbledon.
Yet, he faces the prospect of coming up against Nadal who will be buoyed by another fine season on the clay.
The Spaniard is set to meet Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s French Open final, and if he wins that match it would mark his ninth triumph in 10 years at Roland Garros.
Furthermore, Nadal is desperate to perform well in Halle, having withdrawn from last year’s tournament on the advice of doctors, after he had been plagued by tendonitis in his knee for the latter half of the 2012 season.
“It would have been irresponsible to complete in the condition I was in at that time,” Nadal commented. “I feel much better and fitter now. It is good if you do not have these doubts about health on your mind.
“I urgently want to have a successful start to the grass-court season. Halle is a tremendously organised tournament with a great audience. Everybody wants to play their best tennis.”
The competition is also set to welcome the likes of Canda’s Milos Raonic, French duo Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils, and Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
Youzhny will also return to attempt to go one better than in 2013, while evergreen home-favourite Tommy Haas is bidding to become a three-time champion following his victories in 2009 and 2012.
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