Roger Federer wins his first tournament this season with record sixth Halle title
World No. 3 comes from behind to beat Mikhail Youzhny in Sunday's final
Second-ranked Andy Murray claims his third title this year with Queen's success
Veteran Daniela Hantuchova denies Croatian teen Donna Vekic in Edgbaston
Roger Federer is back where he feels most comfortable – on grass, and winning trophies.
The 31-year-old ended a 10-month wait for a title on Sunday, clinching a record sixth success at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle for the 77th victory of his career.
Last year he lost in the final in Germany before going on to equal Pete Sampras’ record seven Wimbledon titles and reclaim the No. 1 ranking – this season he is battling to regain that form.
“This title couldn’t come at a better time, it’s right before Wimbledon. I’ve played good this week, I’m very pleased. It’s good for my confidence, I’m very happy,” he told CNN’s World Sport show after coming from behind to beat Russia’s Mikhail 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 in his second successive three-set match.
“I played pretty good early on (this season) but I got a bit unlucky at times, should have won a few matches that I ended up losing,” he added.
“I had a bad back and I chose to rest anyways as I had a busy couple of years with the Olympics and the Davis Cup, and I wanted to practice and take some time off. The next thing you know, six months go by and you don’t win a title.”
Federer first won the tournament 10 years ago, when he claimed his first Wimbledon title, and has done the double in both on four occasions.
On Friday Federer avenged last year’s final defeat by beating fellow veteran Tommy Haas, and again had to come from a set down against the 30-year-old Youzhny – playing the first grass-court final of his career.
“After my seven-week break after Indian Wells, either I’ve won pretty straightforward or lost pretty straightforward,” said the world No. 3, who has bounced back from his quarterfinal exit at the French Open last month.
“I didn’t have any of those big fighting matches, so for me to come here in the semifinals and the final and both times come from a set down and then to end up winning, it gives you a great feeling.
“Sometimes I just like to win, but in this particular case I was able to win by fighting and not just by outplaying my opponent. It feels very good and I think it’s important for what’s going to come at Wimbledon.”
Second-ranked Andy Murray missed Roland Garros due to a hip problem, but the British star boosted his hopes of a first Wimbledon title after winning London’s Queen’s Club tournament for the third time on Sunday.
Murray was beaten by Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final before claiming Olympic gold on the same grass courts and then winning his first grand slam at the U.S. Open.
He lost to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in January’s Australian Open final, a reversal of their titanic clash in New York, and has had a patchy season since.
However, Sunday’s 5-7 7-5 6-3 win over Croatia’s defending champion Marin Cilic in a rain-delayed final earned his third title of 2013 after victories at Brisbane in January and Miami in March.
Murray, the winner at Queen’s Club in 2009 and 2011, overcame an injury scare after collapsing in apparent agony when he slipped.
“It’s been extremely wet and I just slipped. I was a bit sore in the groin area, thankfully it wasn’t too bad,” said Murray, who donated his winner’s check of $115,000 to a cancer charity.
“When you sort of do the splits and you’re not in control, it hurts the hips a little bit. But after a game or two I knew it was fine, but you still become a little more cautious with your movement for a few games.”
On the women’s tour, veteran Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova ended the dream run of Croatian 16-year-old Donna Vekic to win her sixth WTA title at Edgbaston, England.
The 30-year-old, a former world No. 5 but now outside the top 60, won 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 for her first success since triumphing in Thailand 16 months ago.
Vekic, ranked 89th, was seeking to become the youngest WTA victor since 2006 when 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won in Slovenia.