Tommy Haas advanced past Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 on Tuesday at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart to book his 17th encounter with Roger Federer.
The match was an entertaining one that was dominated by big-serving.
In the opening stanza, Haas broke when leading 4-3. That opportunity was the only break-point either player had in the first. The German went on to close out the set.
In the second, Herbert hit back. With a 5-4 advantage, he won Haas’ service game to force a decider.
The third was a cracker. Maybe not quite as attractive as the long rallies we saw in the recently concluded Roland Garros, but what it lacked in style it made up for in excitement.
With the score locked at 5-5, Haas, who was roared on by his home fans, made his move as he broke and then showed great composure to close out the match.
“I felt I served well, we both struggled a little with the returns,” said Haas afterwards.
“We used our chances when we got them. The key part to winning the match was getting that one more break point than my opponent.
“I’m obviously very pleased and anything can happen on grass,”
His reward for his performance? A meeting with Federer on Wednesday.
The Swiss star is the top seed and so received a first-round bye. He leads Haas in their head-to-head battles 13-3 but they haven't played in more than three years.
Haas, a close friend of Federer, last beat this year’s Australian Champion during the final of the 2012 Gerry Weber Open.
“We have known each other for a very long time,” Haas said of Federer.
“We started to get closer around the time when my fiancée and his wife became friendlier. Then we had kids and started to hang out much more.
“We used to have the same agent, Tony Godsick, who is a very close friend of mine, so it was always an easy connection.
“[Federer] is a first-class guy. I have great times with him and I am happy to call him my friend.”
— MercedesCup (@MercedesCup) June 13, 2017
All the other results from Tuesday in Stuttgart can be seen below:
Jeremy Chardy (France) beat Florian Mayer (Germany) 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(1)
Bernard Tomic (Australia) beat Stephane Robert (France) 6-1 5-7 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Gilles Simon (France) 6-3 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) beat Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) 6-1 0-0 (Baghdatis retired)
Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat Andrey Kuznetsov (Russia) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Peter Gojowczyk (Germany) beat Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) 2-6 6-3 6-1
Benoit Paire (France) beat Viktor Troicki (Serbia) 6-4 6-4