World no. 1 and nine-time champion Roger Federer advanced to his 16th quarter-final from as many appearances in Halle in 2018, delivering a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 victory over Benoit Paire in an hour and 58 minutes. It was the 61st win for Roger at one of his favorite tournaments, and the 23rd triumph in 25 matches played that season, extending his impressive streak a couple of weeks before turning 37. Roger grabbed the 18th consecutive victory on grass and 170th overall on the fastest surface, moving closer to the Open era record of Jimmy Connors, who stood on 174. It was their sixth meeting and the sixth win for Roger, who lost a set against Benoit for the first time before bouncing back in the third to claim the victory in the deciding tie break. Paire fought well, giving his best to keep composure and match Roger’s pace, fending off two match points on serve in the 12th game before falling short in the tie break after having two match points at 6-5 and 7-6!
Benoit had to stay in touch with Roger in the opening five or six games, which he did, serving well and creating a break chance in game seven that Roger saved with a service winner. The Frenchman had a game point a few minutes later, but Roger found a way to stay in contention, earning a break that pushed him 5-3 up and firing a service winner in the next one to wrap up the opener in 27 minutes. Out of a sudden, Roger’s level suddenly dropped in set number two, serving at 57% and giving away almost half of the points in his games to find himself 4-0 down, a rare scene in his encounters on grass.
Roger Federer had to dig deep against Benoit Paire in Halle 2018.
He pulled one break back in game five, but Benoit brought the set home with a powerful ace at 5-3 to set up a deciding set for the first time against the Swiss. Paire saved a break point in game eight with a service winner and faced an ultimate test at 5-6 when Federer created those match points.
The Frenchman erased them with unreturned serves, and the match went into a deciding tie break, the best way to determine the winner. Benoit led 5-3 and created a match point at 5-5 with a backhand winner, only to be denied by a solid forehand attack from Roger that barely hit the line. Another match point for Paire came at 7-6, this time on his serve, but Federer repelled it with a deep return that the Frenchman failed to control. In the end, Roger converted his third match point at 8-7 when Paire’s forehand landed long, surviving one of his most stringent tests in Halle and staying on the title defense course.