Federer beats Safin in Halle final
Roger Federer beat a racket-slamming Marat Safin 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4 Sunday to win the Gerry Weber Open for the third year in a row. The top-ranked Swiss captured his 20th straight ATP final and 29th straight match on grass courts.
In defeating the Australian Open champion, Federer recorded his 29th career title. He will be going for his third straight crown at Wimbledon, which starts June 20.
"I'm hoping for something similar this year," Federer said. "I feel great. My 29th title and my 29th win on grass ¡ª that fits perfectly."
Safin had never reached a grass-court final before and makes no secret of his dislike for the surface. But the second-seeded Russian surprised Federer.
"It was difficult, tougher than I thought against Marat on grass. ... But I feel great, it's exactly how I want to feel heading into Wimbledon," Federer said.
Federer and Safin traded early breaks in the first set, the only time the Russian would break. Safin, trailing 5-4, lost the set with two forehands that sailed long.
Federer jumped in exhilaration after winning the two-hour match. Safin repeatedly slammed his racket and screamed at the referee as he wasted several chances to break serve.
"But it was still a great match," Safin said. "I don't know the last time I played such great tennis."
Each time the fifth-ranked Safin had a chance to break serve on the fast court, Federer responded with a hard serve or volley on a center court built to be an exact replica of Wimbledon.
Federer's last loss on grass was in June 2002 against Mario Ancic in the first round at Wimbledon. Bjorn Borg holds the record for consecutive grass-court victories in the Open era with 41. Federer's finals streak started in Vienna in 2003, and his record this year is 51-3.
Safin, who also won the 2000 U.S. Open title, reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2001 but hasn't lasted beyond the second round in four other appearances.
"I hope to do well at Wimbledon," Safin said. "I played the best player in the world and I came close to beating him. You have to believe in yourself on grass."
Safin will see a doctor Monday about his left knee, which has troubled him for two months. He said he is considering skipping Russia's next Davis Cup series, which starts two weeks after Wimbledon.