STUTTGART, June 9, 2016
Roger Federer opened his title bid at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart with a second round win over Taylor Fritz on a sunny Thursday afternoon. The match was suspended the night before due to consistent rain, with the world number three leading 4-3.
Federer started on centre court, being a break up and consequently took the opening set with the 10th game. The longer the encounter lasted, the better Fritz found his rhythm and improved in his return games. With his seventh break point chance, the US-American teenager pushed the match the distance. Fritz had some more chances to get the lead but in the end it was Federer, who managed to gain the decisive break in the ninth game to serve out in the following, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in one hour and 30 minutes.
“It’s always disappointing taking a loss when you come that close. Nonetheless, this is a great result for me. If you told me that I am going to take-off a set of Federer I would have been pretty happy before. So mixed emotions for sure,” Fritz told and added that he didn’ treat his opponent with too much of reverence.
“I have a lot of respect for Federer but I wasn’t afraid to test him and to win the match by taking the second set and hanging in there – but of course, it’s Federer,” he said followed by a laughter.
“I definitely like grass and I served pretty well today. I hope to continue like this in the next couple of weeks. This match today reassures me that I like grass,” the teenager said playing at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle next.
Federer, who has tied Ivan Lendl for second place on the Open Era career match wins list, was happy with his win number 1,070.
“It’s always interesting to see how the body is going to react. So it was good to play yesterday and today as well. I felt good, but my energy level was a bit up and down. The good thing is that I found it again at the end. I was just wondering, why I didn’t do it that way throughout the match. Your mind starts to wander and you think of how you want to return, how you want to serve. So it was good for me getting out on the match court in order to get used to all those things,” told Federer, who has returned to the courts for the first time since the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome.
The Swiss maestro also gave credit to his opponent. “Taylor played a good match. He seems to like this surface. He stays on the baseline, taking the ball early.”
Federer will play Florian Mayer next, leading 6-0 in head to head records.
“He also likes to play on grass. We faced each other a couple of times. I cannot remember all of the encounters but we played in Halle on grass and I always enjoy to play against him, as he has a completely different style of tennis. I really like his game. He has a strong backhand and a solid volley game as well. It’s going to be a totally different match compared to today.”
When Federer was asked about Sharapova’s failed drug test and her ban from tennis for two years, he stated:
“I only heard the headlines but to me it’s about zero tolerance. It has nothing to do with anybody and it doesn’t matter if they do it on purpose or not. I do not really see the difference. You need to know what goes into your body,” Federer said and added:
“Of course she has got the right to face the case like everybody else as well. But I am for completely zero tolerance and I stay by my word: Blood samples should be saved for ten or twenty years in order to scare away the people, who think they can cheat. So they will not do it.”
Third seed Dominic Thiem opened his title bid in Stuttgart with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Sam Groth. It was the Austrian’s second victory over the Australian in as many meetings between the two. Thiem withstood 21 aces without facing a break point. The 22-year-old was more consistent in the tie-breaks, closing the match with his 11th ace after one hour and 30 minutes.
“I expected a tough match. It’s really difficult against him, in particular on the grass. He’s not possible to gain a lot of breaks against such an opponent. I learned again, how to move on the grass. So I am pretty pleased with my performance today,” Thiem told afterwards. The youngster entered the top 10, reaching a career high seventh position on Monday.
“There are not that many things, which have changed. You remain the same person. Of course, there are more people recognizing you and you have the chance to play on the big, nice courts, which is great,” the newest member of the top 10 explained. Thiem made it to the semi-finals in Paris and played a lot of matches in straight weeks.
“I was tired after Paris but physically I feel really good, as grass is not the most exhausting surface. Matches really depend on the serve as well as the return,” Thiem said and added that he spent two days in Tyrol after Roland Garros.
“With every match on grass, I hope to get better. I enjoy playing here and look forward to tomorrow,” the Austrian youngster told, taking on Mikhail Youzhny next. The Russian veteran beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 7-6.
Thiem is only missing missing one thing – his famous zebra outfit from Roland Garros.
“I am definitely missing it. I really like it a lot, although there were different opinions about it. I am a bit sad, as I played really well with the attire. I would have loved to continue wearing it at another tournament.”