Djokovic is left running on empty

Serb loses in Halle final and admits to still feeling effects of epic Nadal match

The length of the grass-court season has long been a bone of contention. From the day the French Open champion is crowned on the red clay of Paris there are just 14 days for players to prepare for battle on the green grass of Wimbledon. It is by some margin the shortest period between Grand Slam tournaments. Grass is also the surface to which most players have the greatest difficulty in adjusting.

Most of the modern game's leading men prefer not to play competitively in the week before any Grand Slam tournament. They might play in an exhibition event (of which there are a number in Britain this week), where they can experiment with parts of their game, but otherwise they prefer to go to the practice court to work with their own entourages at their own pace.

As far as grass is concerned, that leaves just one week for the players to hone their competitive game in time for Wimbledon. Recently that has meant playing at Halle in Germany or at Queen's Club in London.

For those who make the final weekend in Paris the temptation is often to rest. Roger Federer, who usually warms up at Halle, missed the event two years ago after losing to Rafael Nadal in the final at Roland Garros, but it did not prevent him going on to win his fifth Wimbledon title.

After winning the French Open last weekend he again decided to skip Halle and will go to the All England Club having not played a competitive match on grass since losing to Nadal in last year's final.

In Federer's absence the top seed at Halle was Novak Djokovic, the world No 4, who had lost to Nadal in the Queen's final 12 months ago. Yesterday he was beaten again, losing to Tommy Haas, who had given Federer his toughest test at the French Open. Haas, the world No 41, won 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 to claim his first title on grass at the age of 31.

Djokovic did not force a single break point in the first two sets but won the tie-break after Haas served three double faults. Nevertheless, the German recovered to win the third set with something to spare.

It was Djokovic's fourth defeat in a final this year. "I did not play well at all," he said. "I was lucky to win the second set. I didn't put any pressure on his serve. I served very badly, I did not return well, I gave him many opportunities. But it was a good week and getting to the final is a good achievement. I've had enough matches on grass before Wimbledon, but I would not call myself one of the favourites."

Djokovic, who lost in the third round of the French Open to Philipp Kohlschreiber, said he was still feeling the effects of his defeat last month to Nadal in the semi-final of the Madrid Masters. The match lasted more than four hours and Djokovic had five match points. "That loss exhausted me mentally," he said. "I am still trying to recover."

Nadal pulled out of Queen's this week because of tendonitis in both knees. He has been having treatment at home in Spain but is due to arrive in London tomorrow. He has not made a final decision on whether he will be fit for Wimbledon but he is expected to play.

After his victory at Queen's yesterday Murray was asked whether he thought it was of any significance that Federer and Nadal would be going to Wimbledon without any competitive matches under their belts.

"I can only talk for myself," he said. "For me, it's been a good week in terms of the confidence and playing matches on this surface. It's been very good preparation. But I would also be very confident if I had just won the French Open like Federer and had to skip a couple of weeks.

"Nadal is someone who normally likes to play a lot of matches and get used to surfaces and courts. Maybe for him that will make a difference, but you never know until you step out on the court. He might have been practising for the last 10 days or so."

Crowned Queen's: Two trophies on grass

*From Barons Court to the All England Club: players who have won at Queen's and gone on to win Wimbledon in the same year*

1981 John McEnroe

1982 Jimmy Connors

1985 Boris Becker

1995 Pete Sampras

1999 Pete Sampras

2002 Lleyton Hewitt

2008 Rafael Nadal

*Statistics go back to 1979, when Queen's Tournament was relaunched as the Stella Artois Championships

world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice