Roger Federer did not play on his usual level in Halle 2018, but he still reached the title clash against Borna Coric. The Croat claimed eight points fewer than the Swiss, but he still emerged at the top with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 triumph!
It was the first ATP 500 title for Coric and his first success on the fastest surface, heading to Halle with only two victories on grass. Borna became the sixth-youngest player with a grass-court win over Roger. Also, he joined an impressive list of players who ousted the Swiss in the grass-court title match, joining Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
It was a severe loss for Roger, who controlled the pace with his first serve and in the shortest rallies to forge a massive advantage over his opponent. Besides, Federer fired no less than 70 winners in 97 points he won, combined with 40 errors.
Coric tamed his shots nicely, hitting 49 winners and spraying 27 mistakes to stay in touch with the Swiss and overpower him in the decider to celebrate one of his career-best victories. Roger won 33% of the return points but not the ones that mattered the most.
He converted one of four break chances and got broken twice from three opportunities offered to Borna. Federer was the dominant figure in the opening two sets, dropping just 12 points on serve and keeping the pressure on Coric, including three set points in the opener that proved to be the crucial part of the encounter.
Borna Coric defeated Roger Federer in the 2018 Halle final.
The youngster deserves credit for surviving all the challenges in the first set. After a poor performance in the second set, he found his A-game to emerge as a deserved winner against the most challenging possible rival on this surface.
Roger fired 40 service winners and 30 more from the court, mostly from his volley and forehand. Borna did his best to stay aggressive and not let Federer dictate the points, landing 28 unreturned serves and 21 winners from the court, including ten from his forehand that worked like a charm.
Roger built a massive 21 points advantage in the winners department, making fewer unforced errors (17 to 19) and pushing Borna to give his best in the area of the forced mistakes to gain some ground and cut the deficit. The Croat did that in style, hitting eight forced errors while the Swiss counted 22.
Roger missed equally from both wings and did not match the rival’s pace from the baseline in those points, especially in the more extended exchanges. Federer had the upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes (67-52), mainly thanks to those service winners.
He was 24-20 ahead in the mid-range rallies from five to eight strokes. It gave him an enormous 91-72 lead in the exchanges shorter than nine strokes, and Coric had to dig deep in the more challenging battles to bypass that shortage.
The youngster grabbed 17 of the 23 most extended points to hang in and forge the triumph after a brilliant performance in the final set.