Roger Federer wins first title of 2013 in Halle

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Roger Federer. AP FILE PHOTO

HALLE — Roger Federer won his first title of the year on Sunday, the world number three beating Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4 in the ATP final at Halle.

This was the 31-year-old Swiss great’s sixth Halle title and the 77th win of his career.

After losing the opening set the former world number one battled back to preserve his perfect record over Youzhny in 15 meetings in over two hours of play.

For Federer, beaten by Rafael Nadal in his only previous final appearance of 2013 on the clay in Rome and brushed aside by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the French Open quarter-finals, this was the ideal preparation ahead of his Wimbledon defense.

The top seed, who overcame veteran German Tommy Haas in Saturday’s semi-final was thrilled to finally get off the mark for the year.

“Mikhail has produced a great tournament, that’s why I’m so happy to have won,” he said.

“I had to fight hard to remain in the race in the second set. I served well (he produced 12 aces) and that’s what saved me today.”

Federer missed five break points in the first set, four of them coming in the opening game, before coming off second best in the tie break after one hour of play.

But he fought back to level the encounter against the Russian, going on to win the match with a love game on his service.

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