Roger Federer overcame a sluggish start Sunday to win his first title of the year by beating unseeded Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 at the Gerry Weber Open.
Returning to grass in his favourite warm-up for Wimbledon, it took the top-seeded Federer until the middle of the second set to come out of his lethargy and start hitting shots with confidence against a player he had never lost to in 14 previous career matches. It was the first final on the tour this year involving players 30 or older.
"I've won a lot but not so much in the last 10 months, although I feel I'd been playing well," Federer said. "But the others were playing better."
Federer won his first title since Cincinnati in August and his sixth in Halle, the first since 2008. Four of Federer's seven Wimbledon titles have come after triumphs in Halle.
The former top-ranked player, who is now No. 3, won his 77th career title. Federer will be looking to add to his record 17 Grand Slam championships when he defends his title at Wimbledon.
Federer had beaten Youzhny in both last year's semifinal in Halle and the quarterfinal at Wimbledon, but it looked for a while Sunday that the Russian could have discovered a key to finally beating Federer, although he had to fend off four break points in the first game of the match.
Youzhny saved another break point in the 11th game, but he had the Swiss on the defensive and Federer saved a set point in the next game before holding to go into the tiebreaker. An error by Federer gave Youzhny a set point and the Russian put away a volley winner to go ahead.
Federer finally started finding his range and went up when Youzhny double-faulted at break point in the eighth game, which proved to be the turning point of the match.
The Swiss hit a perfect backhand passing shot to go up 4-3 in the third, held for 5-3 with a smash and fired a service winner to seal his victory after two hours and two minutes.
Federer has a big following at the Halle tournament and has a street named after him next to the stadium. The fans gave him a standing ovation, while his wife Mirka let out a sigh of relief while keeping an eye on their twin daughters.
"The difference was that he was better today — he's been better all his life," Youzhny said, referring to his lifetime losing streak against Federer.
Federer, who finished with 12 aces, said his serve had kept him in the match.
"The first set was very close, it could have gone either way. I had to fight very hard to stay in the second, my serve saved me today," Federer said. "At the end I was just a bit steadier."
Murray wins at Queen's Club
Top-seeded Andy Murray rallied to beat defending champion Marin Cilic 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday to win the Queen's Club tournament for the third time.
It was the 27th career title for the Briton, who also claimed the trophy in 2009 and '11, and his second of the season after winning at Miami in March.
Murray held an early advantage, breaking to lead 2-0 and then fighting off three break points in the next game.
Cilic broke back at 4-2 on his sixth break point of the set and held off two break points to hold for 4-4.
Murray yelled in agony in that eighth game after straining his groin in a stretch but continued without treatment. Murray then saved break point with an ace to hold for 5-4, was broken at 5-5 and was unable to convert two break points as Cilic served out the set.
In the second set, Murray failed to win three break points at 3-2 but broke for the set when Cilic netted a forehand.
Murray dominated the final set, going 3-1 ahead when Cilic made a forehand error before closing out the match on his second match point.
The match was delayed for more than three hours by rain.