Federer Handed Tough Path In Quest For 10th Halle Trophy
Defending champion Coric joins Federer in top half
The nine-time champion's campaign for a 10th title at the ATP 500 event will begin against John Millman, the man who ended his 2018 US Open campaign with a gruelling four-set victory under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Federer will be looking to add to his 63-7 record at the grass-court tournament, following an impressive run to the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Nadal). The World No. 3 is aiming to lift his first title in Halle since 2017, after losing to Borna Coric in three sets in last year’s championship match.
If Federer overcomes Millman for the second time in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, his path to the trophy does not get any easier. The 37-year-old would meet former World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or in-form Frenchman Benoit Paire in the second round.
Tsonga has defeated Federer in six of their previous 17 FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, which includes a five-set comeback victory in their only previous clash on grass at Wimbledon in 2011. Paire also arrives in Halle in good form, after winning two ATP Tour titles on clay this year in Marrakech (d. Andujar) and Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime).
Federer shares the top quarter of the draw with seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut and former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. Bautista Agut has reached the quarter-finals or better in both of his previous two appearances in Halle, while Gasquet owns three ATP Tour trophies on grass, including last year's Libema Open title (d. Chardy).
There will be no repeat of last year's final after defending champion Coric landed in the same half as Federer. The World No. 14 dropped only one set en route to the title last year, which included victories against Federer and second seed Alexander Zverev. Coric opens against Jaume Munar of Spain and headlines the second quarter of the draw alongside fifth seed Gael Monfils.
Second seed Alexander Zverev will meet Robin Haase in his opening match. The two-time runner-up (2016, 2017) will be hoping to earn his first win on grass this year after falling in his opening match at the MercedesCup to Dustin Brown in three sets. Zverev is joined in the bottom quarter by eighth seed Guido Pella, David Goffin and 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The third quarter of the draw sees third seed Karen Khachanov and sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili open against players who have enjoyed success on grass. Khachanov will meet last year's Turkish Airlines Open Antalya winner Damir Dzumhur, while Basilashvili will face MercedesCup finalist Matteo Berrettini.