HALLE (Germany) • Roger Federer will head to Wimbledon next week in high spirits after waltzing past David Goffin in straight sets to win a record-extending 10th title at the ATP event in Halle yesterday.
The Swiss beat his Belgian opponent 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 to secure his 102nd career singles crown, maintaining his unbeaten run on grass so far this season.
Calling his feat "unbelievable", Federer, who is now seven shy of equalling American great Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109 career singles titles, said: "I never thought when I first played here that I would win 10 titles.
"I've never won a tournament 10 times before, so I will remember forever that I did so here in Halle.
"It's always good to do it here. It's a unique tournament and that's why I always love coming back.
The world No. 3 is chasing a ninth Wimbledon crown next month as he looks to extend his record of 20 majors and, after matching Spain's Rafael Nadal as just the second man to lift 10 or more titles at a single event in the Open era - his victory in Germany also sends out a clear warning that he remains at the top of his game on his favoured surface.
According to the Daily Express, Federer's win has also boosted his chances of landing the third Grand Slam of the year as he is now set to be seeded second in London and be in the opposite half of the draw to defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
The former world No. 1 endured a rough ride in the early rounds in Halle, battling to three-set victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.
Things got easier in the latter stages as he thrashed Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who will be Andy Murray's new doubles partner at Wimbledon, in the semi-finals before dispatching Goffin.
Holding off three break points early in the first set before prevailing in the tie-breaker, his unsettled-looking opponent then gifted Federer the opening game of the second set with a double fault on break point.
From there, he never looked back, breaking the world No. 33 twice more on his way to his landmark achievement and the 16th year as a professional that he has won at least three Tour titles.
Federer has triumphed eight times at both Wimbledon and the Dubai Open, and has won his home event in Basel on nine occasions.
While he still has sole ownership of the majors record, long-term rival Nadal moved to within just two titles after his 12th French Open title earlier this month and Djokovic is also not far away, five short with 15 career Grand Slams.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA