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Federer wins World Sportsman and Comeback of the Year at Laureus Awards

Roger Federer was honoured by the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards, picking up the Sportsman of the Year and Comeback of the Year awards at the ceremony in Monaco.

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Federer cruises past Dimitrov to claim Rotterdam title

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings with his second title of the season, swatting aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam.

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Federer becomes oldest ATP World No.1

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

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Federer beats Cilic to win 20th Grand Slam

Roger Federer added another chapter to his phenomenal career when the Swiss captured his 20th Grand Slam to retain his Australian Open title with a thrilling 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the final.

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Federer beats Del Potro for eighth Basel title

Roger Federer won his eighth Basel title, battling back to defeat the surging Juan Martin del Potro, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to clinch his ATP World Tour-leading seventh title of the year.

Anderson saves match point, stuns Federer in five-set thriller at Wimbledon

Kevin Anderson recovered from two sets down, and saved one match point, to stun eight-time champion Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 at Wimbledon on Wednesday to claim one of the most important victories of his career.

The eighth seed, competing in his first quarter-final at the All England Club, recovered from the brink of defeat after Federer held match point at 5-4 Ad Out in the third set. The defending champion was on the verge of clinching a record-breaking 35th consecutive set at SW19, but Anderson rallied with aggression to reach his second Grand Slam semi-final after 4 hours and 14 minutes.

“The first set felt great,” said Federer. “I was reading the serve. He wasn't getting many aces. When I was on, I was making him play. From the baseline I felt like I could mix it up and play aggressive. There was a lot going on.

“As the match went on, I couldn't surprise him any more. That's a bad feeling to have. It's not like it hasn't happened before. I've been in many, many matches like this. I couldn't come up with enough good stuff for him to miss more. I think that was the key at the end.

“He's got a nice, big serve that he can rely heavily on. There's nothing really that shocked me because I've seen Kevin play many, many times in the past. Even if the matches have been maybe sometimes one-sided. you always know he can pick it up, and all of a sudden you won't see breaks for some time.”

As was the case in his fourth-round triumph over Adrian Mannarino, Federer made a quick start. The defending champion varied his returns, blocking and attacking Anderson's serve with depth, to earn breaks in the first and seventh games. Having lost just one point on serve throughout his opening three service games, Federer then held serve to love, for the third time, to take a one-set lead.

Federer's streak of 85 consecutive games won on serve ended abruptly early in the second set, as Anderson stepped in on his return. The South African mixed power and precision, especially on his forehand side, to extract errors from Federer, who was forced to retreat behind the baseline.

But Federer responded well, retrieving the service break in the fifth game before coming from a mini-break down in the tie-break to secure a two-set advantage. Federer's forehand dictated proceedings late in the tie-break, with powerful shots and uncharacteristic errors deciding points, before converting his third set point.

Federer appeared to be heading towards a straight-sets victory as he manufactured a match-point opportunity at 5-4 Ad Out. But Anderson responded emphatically, charging the net and forcing Federer into a backhand error before holding serve.

Anderson capitalised on forehand errors to earn break point in the 11th game, which he converted with a confident backhand return up the line. The New York Open champion then dug himself out of a tricky situation, winning his fifth consecutive point from 0-40 down with an ace up the 'T' to force a fourth set.

“I was very happy that I got off to the right start of the match and was able to take control, somewhat, of the game," said Federer. "I just don't know exactly how I couldn't create more opportunities once the third set came around.”

With both men holding serve with relative ease in the fourth set, Anderson made the crucial move in the seventh game. While Federer faltered on his forehand, Anderson fired his into the corner to earn two break point opportunities. A fortunate backhand return for Anderson, which hit the net cord, forced Federer into another forehand error. That moment proved to be the decisive moment of the set as Anderson held serve, after saving break point, in the tenth game to ensure a deciding set.

With neither man able to make inroads in their return games, Federer, after failing to convert break point in the eighth game, eventually made a second bid for a break at 6-5. The Swiss moved up the court, lifting his level of aggression to create an opportunity in the 12th game, but Anderson matched Federer, with huge hitting off his forehand and serve to level the score.

Both men continued to hold serve comfortably until 11-11, with Federer making four fatal errors to concede a crucial break. Anderson took full advantage in the following game, holding serve to 15 to complete a stunning comeback.

“I guess there was definitely a moment where I lost control of the match at some point,” said Federer. “Is it missing match points? Is it getting broken at 5-All after that?

“I'm not sure. There's a lot of little points here and there that always make a difference in the outcome of a match. I don't think this one naturally you can pinpoint exactly, except my match point.”

Top seed Federer was bidding to reach the final four for the 16th time at a Grand Slam event since turning 30, but drops to 12-2 on grass and 29-4 overall this season. Federer had won his six most recent matches that went to a fifth set, dating back to his 2016 loss to Milos Raonic in the semi-finals at SW19.

“I think I had my chances, so it's disappointing,” said Federer. “No doubt about it. He was consistent. He was solid. He got what he needed when he had to. Credit to him for hanging around really that long.

“Today, when I needed it, I couldn't get my level up. I didn't see it coming. From that standpoint, I felt great in practice, good in the warm up. I am feeling the ball well. Even now, losing, I still feel like the feeling is there. It just happened to be that today wasn't the day.”

Federer, who was bidding to reach his 13th Wimbledon semi-final, discussed how he struggled to find his best level after racing to a one-set lead in under half an hour.

“It was just a bad day from my side, except the first set,” said Federer. “After that, I never really felt exactly 100 per cent. That has nothing to do with my opponent. It was just one of those days where you hope to get by somehow. I could have. I should have.”

The top seed had played four hours and three minutes less than Anderson coming into the last-eight meeting and appeared mentally and physically fresh throughout the four-hour, 14-minute duel. Federer also entered the fifth set with far greater experience, having played 50 deciding fifth sets compared to Anderson’s 20.

“I felt good actually. Sure, it's disappointing losing the next two sets after winning the first two and having match point. I've been there before. I know what kind of energy I need to bring to the fifth. I was able to bring that,” said Federer.

“To be honest, I didn't feel mental fatigue. Now I feel horribly fatigued and just awful. It's just terrible. But that's how it goes, you know. Credit to him.”

At the conclusion of his 20th consecutive Wimbledon campaign, Federer owns a 95-12 record at The All England Club and holds a record eight Gentlemen’s Singles titles. The 98-time tour-level titlist took a moment to reflect on his love for the grass-court Grand Slam championship.

“I just love being around Wimbledon,” said Federer. “It's a good vibe. We have a good time as a family. I have great memories from here. My heroes all won here. Every time I come back here, I try to be like them, so it's nice to be here.”

But Federer, who was bidding to win consecutive Wimbledon titles for the first time in since 2007, added that he is not sure how long it may take to get over the surprise loss.

“I don't know how long it's going to take me. It might take me a while or it might take me half an hour. I have no idea what it's going to be.

“Of course, the goal is to come back here next year. I wouldn't call it unfinished business. I felt like I did some good business here in the past already. So I'm all right. I am just disappointed now.”

Federer opened his season by winning his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, before clinching returns to the top spot after title runs at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Federer also reached championship matches at the BNP Paribas Open in March and the Gerry Weber Open in June.

Date: 11 July 2018, Source: ATP

Federer eases into Wimbledon quarter-finals

Roger Federer sent a warning to his title rivals at The Championships on Monday when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the 16th time. The eight-time champion competed with great fluency and was a continual threat to French No. 22 seed Adrian Mannarino in a 6-0, 7-5, 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Federer has now won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon - only two sets shy of his record 34 sets won between 2005 - 06 - and held serve 81 times in a row. He will next prepare to challenge eighth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, who defeated Gael Monfils of France 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 5-7, 7-6 (4). He leads Anderson 4-0 in their ATP Head to Head series, but the pair has not met since August 2015 at the Western and Southern Open.

“If you give yourself the maximum number of chances, you're playing well, you have super focus, then these streaks are kind of possible,” said Federer. “In practice at the moment, I'm not working on anything specific. It's really about being just solid. The goal is to win matches and not to be too creative right now. That's going to happen naturally if I play well. I'm really just focused on that.”

Prior to The Championships this year, Federer captured the 98th trophy of his career at the MercedesCup (d. Raonic) and finished runner-up at the Gerry Weber Open (l. to Coric). He has a 28-3 record on the season, which also includes his 20th major crown at the Australian Open (d. Cilic) and his third at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (d. Dimitrov).

Mannarino was unable to find his rhythm in the first set, unsure of his ball striking, movement and positioning with Federer winning 25 of the 30 points in the 16-minute passage of play. Errors by Mannarino on two backhands and one forehand handed Federer a 5-0 lead, with the Swiss sealing the set when Mannarino hit a lob long. Federer, who had not faced a break point in three previous matches in the first week, saved one break point opportunity for Mannarino at 5-0, 30/40 with an ace.

“I was also surprised it was that fast, that first set, especially 16 minutes,” said Federer. “That was too fast. It shouldn't really happen, but thankfully they do for me. I probably won't have another 6-0 set this week, so I'll enjoy this one.”

It came as a relief to both Mannarino and the capacity Centre Court crowd, when the Frenchmen saved three break points and held serve in the opening game of the second set. It wasn’t until Mannarino’s eighth service game that Federer did not create a break point chance, and slowly the 30-year-old grew in confidence - striking one backhand winner at 80 miles per hour in the 10th game. Nerves played their part at 5-5, when Mannarino became hesitant on his forehand and Federer took advantage.

Mannarino came within one point of taking a 5-3 lead - on three occasions - in the third set, but a forehand winner from Federer, then two backhand errors gave the Swiss a reprieve. It sparked the top seed into life as he broke Mannarino in the next game en route to his 95th match win at the All England Club (95-11) over one hour and 45 minutes.

“I was just trying to do as well as I could, but he was too good,” said Mannarino, who was playing on Centre Court for the fourth time. “Against Federer you have to play really well from the beginning. The last time we played each other [in the 2017 Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals], I won the first set.

“The thing with Roger is that he is making you work all the time. He's not giving you any points. He's returning all the time unless if you're really, really serving well, but he pushes you to serve the best you can do. You have to play well from the start of the match.”

The 30-year-old Mannarino is now 18-18 on the year, which includes his second straight final appearance at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya (l. to Dzumhur), two days prior to the start of Wimbledon.

Date: 9 July 2018, Source: ATP

Ruthless Federer marches on with another straight-sets win

Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer advanced to the Wimbledon last 16 without dropping a set after a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 win over German Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday.

Federer, seeking a record ninth Wimbledon title, eased through the first set before the big-serving Struff put up more of a fight in the second.

But Federer clinched it with a superb service game that included a wonderful volley at the end of a long rally followed by a winning drive down the line.

The 36-year-old Swiss proceeded to win his 29th consecutive set at the All England Club and wrap up victory on Centre Court with an ace on his first match point in just over one and a half hours. Six more flawless sets and Federer will snap his own record of 34 consecutive Wimbledon sets, which he achieved between the third round in 2005 and the 2006 final.

"Against big servers who go for a lot it's always difficult to find rhythm and be sure that you are in driver's seat until the match is over," Federer said after his 175th grasscourt win to move ahead of Jimmy Connors with the most wins on grass.

"I was happy to stay calm and finish off the job. I thought I did very well today. I created more chances in the second set and was always able to stay pretty clean on my own service game.

"It's a wonderful feeling walking out there, I take every match one at a time, I try to put on a good match, try hard every time, and will never underestimate anybody - that keeps me in check."

Federer next faces French 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino.

"In the next round it will be a lefty. It will be much more of a strategic match, I believe, the way Mannarino plays," Federer said.

"I'm happy I found a way today. Some moments where it can be frustrating because you're not finding any rhythm, at times you're more reacting than playing active tennis.

"I'm just very pleased that I found a way in that first set, then also stayed calm in the second set, regardless that I had maybe missed opportunities. He was always going to be a tough opponent."

Federer has yet to be broken at SW19, and it's the fourth time he's reached the Round of 16 without dropping serve (2004, won title; 2014, finalist; 2015, finalist).

Date: 6 July 2018, Source: Reuters and ATP

Federer takes sets streak to 26 at Wimbledon

The streaks - one of Roger Federer's best and a forgettable one for Lukas Lacko - will live another day after the eight-time champion eased past the Slovakian 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday at The Championships.

“On certain days it goes better than others. Sometimes your serve matches up better against certain players. There's no doubt about that, as well,” Federer said.

The 36-year-old Swiss was perfect at times, especially on serve, as he pushed his Wimbledon consecutive set win streak to 26, matching his second-best stretch at SW19. His longest - 34 straight sets - came during Federer's grass-court glory days - did they end? - from the third round in 2005 to the 2006 final. Federer won five consecutive Wimbledon titles from 2003-08.

A decade later, he's looking to go back-to-back at the All England Club for the first time since '07-'08. His second-round match was a tad trickier than his opener. Lacko had a confident beginning, placing drop shot winners and holding comfortably.

But once Federer found his level, the Slovakian could offer little resistance. Federer broke in the seventh game of the first set and served out the opener, which started his perfection on serve. From 5-4 in the first set to 4-1, 30/0 in the third, Federer won 35 straight service points, eight consecutive love service holds.

I think what's important when you want to serve well is your point-for-point mentality, saying maybe the first point is as important as a break point, so the concentration is the same. Trying to remember all the things you've done throughout the entire match, what has worked, what hasn't worked,” Federer said.

I don't need that much time, especially after a short previous rally to go through all of that. Just reassess everything very quickly. I think I can do that very good. Then it's more than just serving. It's also first-strike tennis, serve and first shot, serve and taking the right decisions as you go along, in the rallies as well. As the match went on, I was able to do that better and better.”

Lacko, who reached his first grass-court final on Saturday in Eastbourne, fell to 0-19 against Top 10 players.

Federer will next meet Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, who saved a match point and came back to beat Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 13-11. It was a festival of aces: Karlovic delivered 61, while Struff hit 31. The big Croatian was a swing away from advancing to the third round while Struff was serving 5-6, Ad-Out in the fourth set. But Struff held, and then converted his first match point, breaking Karlovic in the 24th game of the final set.

At 36 years 341 days, Federer is attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to capture five Grand Slam titles after turning 30. The Swiss is one of only three men who have won four Grand Slam titles in the Open Era after their 30th birthdays (Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall).

Date: 4 July 2018, Source: ATP

Federer shows new look, old form

Roger Federer walked onto Centre Court at Wimbledon to begin his title defence at The Championships, drawing oohs and aahs before striking a ball. The Swiss, who had worn Nike for his entire professional career, has a new look, sporting Uniqlo apparel.

But the tennis remains vintage Federer, as the top seed began his pursuit of a ninth championship at the grass-court Grand Slam with a straightforward 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory in 79 minutes. He will face runner-up Lukas Lacko, who ousted Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, in the second round.

"I'm very happy. I felt good from the start, too, which was nice," Federer said. "I felt right at home again, so it was a really nice feeling. Got the early break in each set and was able to bring it home."

Federer is now 67-6 in first-round matches at Grand Slams, including a 17-3 mark at the All England Club. The 36-year-old’s most recent opening-round loss at a major came at 2003 Roland Garros against Luis Horna.

There is plenty of history on the line this fortnight for Federer, who is attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to lift five Grand Slam trophies after turning 30. The first man in the Open Era to make 20 consecutive appearances at Wimbledon, Federer is also trying to extend his record to nine titles at the event.

Despite all of his success, Federer spoke at his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday about the nerves he still deals with when beginning his title defence on Centre Court. A year ago, in the second round, the Swiss even fell behind 0-2 against Lajovic.

But Federer showed no nerves at all against the 28-year-old, breaking the Serbian’s serve five times without facing a break point himself to oust Lajovic for the second consecutive year. Federer now leads their ATP Head to Head series 2-0, without dropping a set.

"I was really able to enjoy the match out there because I got off to a good start. When you get off to a good start in set one and two, you're able to just enjoy the moment more than when you're struggling early on," Federer said. "There is always pressure and nerves when you go into a first round."

The World No. 2 is now 9-1 this grass-court season, after claiming victory at the Mercedes Cup for the first time and advancing to his 12th Gerry Weber Open final, where he lost to Borna Coric in three sets. This is his sixth straight-sets victory on the surface this year.

And whereas he lost the first seven points of his match against Lajovic at Wimbledon last year, Federer got off to a much quicker start. After the Serbian held to open play on Centre Court, the Swiss won nine consecutive games. Federer continuously put pressure on his opponent, going after his shots and attempting to move into the net. Whenever he got a short ball or saw Lajovic switch his grip to hit a slice, Federer quickly swooped in, winning 23 of 28 (82%) net points.

"I also watched some of the match I played against him last year. My legs were really not moving," Federer said. "Took me faster than six games to figure everything out. Court played great. It's wonderful. Wonderful to be back here."

To nobody's surprise, the eight-time champion was dominant on serve, losing just four first-service points. Lajovic, however, was able to capture just 59 per cent of first-serve points.

The first seed Federer could have played, No. 32 Leonardo Mayer, is out. German Jan-Lennard Struff overcame a two-set deficit to defeat the Argentine 3-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-1 in three hours, 29 minutes.

Date: 3 July 2018, Source: ATP

Coric stuns Federer to win Halle

Borna Coric ended Roger Federer's 20-match winning streak on grass, beating him 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2 in the Halle Open final on Sunday while also bringing to a halt the Swiss maestro's reign as world number one.

Federer was denied a 10th title in the German grasscourt tournament as Croatian Coric handed the 36-year-old his first setback on an otherwise serene road towards defending his Wimbledon title.

The defeat meant that Rafael Nadal will return to the top of the world rankings on Monday.

“I actually thought I played maybe my best match of the week today. It just didn’t go my way. So, it’s a bit unfortunate there. But I’m definitely going to leave with my head high, thinking it’s been a good run in Stuttgart and Halle,” said Federer, who fell to 9-3 in Halle finals.

“Credit to him to play really, really quality tennis at the very end of that first set and then in the third as well, he never really dropped his level and that was it. It was an unfortunate match for me but credit to Borna to really come out and play a tough match today.”

With both players holding serve comfortably throughout the first set, Federer was the first to earn a break point opportunity at 5-5. The Swiss earned himself an great chance at a cross-court forehand passing shot to serve for the set, but, crucially, the ball clipped the tape before Coric eventually held serve.

Once again, Federer manufactured chances in the tie-break, earning two set points at 6/4, before Coric responded emphatically with forehand aggression to reel off four straight points.

“I think the key maybe in hindsight was trying to win that first-set tie-break. I had more chances throughout the set, I had chances at 6/4,” said Federer.

As was the case in the first set, Federer made the first move in the second set. The nine-time champion took advantage of a series of errors from Coric to earn break points at 4-3 and broke through in fortunate fashion as Coric dumped a forehand volley into the net. Federer then held serve to love to force a decider.

The final set started competitively, with Coric and Federer holding their opening two service games. But, from that point, Coric took charge. The Croatian stepped up his aggression on both groundstrokes to secure a 4-2 lead before breaking once more, two games later, to clinch the biggest title of his career.

But Federer is proud of his grass-court season so far, including his title run at last week's Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. The Swiss has 98 tour-level titles - 18 on grass - and will next compete at Wimbledon, which begins 2 July. The eight-time champion owns a 91-11 record at SW19.

“I’m definitely looking forward to some recovery time now next week and just some easy preparation. I'm really going to love going to Wimbledon. Being the defending champion always creates pressure. So regardless of whether I won or lost here I will be one of the favourites there. But all of that stuff doesn’t matter; I just really need to make sure I play great tennis from the get-go and hopefully I can do that there again.”

The Swiss great remains two match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Date: 24 June 2018, Source: ATP and Reuters

Federer beats Kudla to set up Coric final in Halle

Defending champion Roger Federer extended his unbeaten run on grass to 20 matches by defeating American qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6 (1), 7-5 on Saturday, and set up a Halle Open final with young Croatian Borna Coric.

Federer's 20-match grass win streak is the second longest of his career. The 36-year-old won 65 consecutive encounters on the surface from 2003 to 2008. The Swiss improves to 63-6 at Halle.

"I'm very happy," said Federer. "I’ve never played back-to-back finals on grass like this in events before Wimbledon. So, this is a first for me. I’m very happy having won Stuttgart and, now, making another final here in Halle is great. I would have taken that any day a month ago."

The pair exchanged early breaks in overcast conditions before top-seeded Federer stamped his authority by winning the tiebreak 7-1, ending Kudla's 10-set winning streak this week. Playing his eighth match in less than two weeks, Federer seemed clearly fatigued but showed great mental strength to save five break points in the second set.

A lapse of concentration from Kudla in the 11th game allowed Federer to grab the only break point on offer before the Swiss served out the match in just under an hour and a half.

"Denis has played an excellent tournament and made it difficult for me," Federer said. "So I am of course very glad to have made it."

Nine-time Halle champion Federer has reached his 12th final on German grass, and will next face 34th ranked Coric, who will make his first final appearance of the season.

The 21-year-old Coric, who defeated second seed Alexander Zverev earlier this week, advanced after playing just five games of his semi-final against Robert Bautista Agut.

The Spaniard was forced to retire after an unfortunate slip, with Coric serving at 2-3.

Federer, who must win a record-extending 10th title in Halle to remain at the top of the world rankings, holds a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over Coric.

Coric will be playing his first grass final and stands 1-3 in ATP finals on all surfaces. His lone win came in 2017 in Casablanca against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Date: 23 June 2018, Source: Reuters and ATP

Federer battles hard for Halle semi-final spot

World number one Roger Federer was tested once again in Halle but did enough to overpower Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6 (2), 7-5 in the quarter-finals on Friday. With his world number one ranking on the line, the Swiss is sparing no effort to make sure he lifts a tenth title at the event on Sunday.

The victory was the 19th in a row on grass for the 36-year-old Federer. Failure to win the grasscourt title would send rival Rafael Nadal back to the top spot going into Wimbledon which starts on July 2.

"I felt I had to push myself today," Federer said. "It didn't come as easy as it did in other matches.

"But you can't allow that to be frustrating. I can take away a lot of positives.

"Now that I'm in the semi-finals I can see the light at the end of the tunnel - you either lose in the semis or have two more matches, max. That allows me to find extra energy.

"I'm happy I played well when I had to," Federer said. "I'm happy I got through somehow."

The first set on Friday was decided in a tiebreaker while the Swiss had to twice recover from a break down in the second to secure a tight victory in 88 minutes.

Federer set up match point with a flicked backhand pass and then sealed his semi-final place as Ebden returned long.

Ebden did not make it easy for Federer, staying with the Swiss into the first-set tiebreaker.

The Aussie double-faulted to hand over four set points but one was enough as Federer hit a backhand service return winner.

In the second set, Ebden broke Federer twice and served for the set at 5-4 only for the Swiss to break back for a second time.

After Federer held to love he then broke Ebden again to finish the match by winning four straight games.

"It's normal once you get broke on grass to get ready for a possible third set," Federer said. "That's the logical consequence of being broken.

"At the same time, you need to show a reaction, try to break back. I was able to do that today."

Federer will next take on qualifier Denis Kudla, who scored the best grass victory of his career as he beat Japan's Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 7-5.

The American, ranked 109, had never been past a quarter-final on the lawns - which he achieved at Queen's club, London five years ago.

Kudla improved to 17-14 on grass over his career as he put out Sugita, the No. 52 who stunned third seed and Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in the second round.

Date: 22 June 2018, Source: AFP and Reuters

Federer saves two match points in Halle win over Paire

Defending champion Roger Federer saved two match points in a final set tiebreak before defeating Benoit Paire 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7) in a thrilling contest to reach the Halle Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

Federer, who must win a record-extending 10th title in Halle to remain at the top of the world rankings, dropped a set for the first time in six meetings against the Frenchman as the pair fought out a gripping two-hour duel.

"You need to take the right decisions along the way," Federer said of the dramatic tiebreaker. "You need some luck also, I guess.

"It was a tough match and I played at good level actually. He served well and was hard to break. It was always going to be tight. At the end it was extremey close, I was fortunate to have made it today."

The 36-year-old Swiss extended his winning run on grass to 18 matches as he continues a serene build-up to his title defense at Wimbledon next month.

Federer held his nerve to avoid another third set tie-break loss this year. In March, he lost to Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (2) in the BNP Paribas Open final and at the next ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, he fell to Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the Miami Open second round.

Paire began strongly, giving little pace to Federer and hit a high proportion of his first serves into court. The Frenchman earned the first break point opportunity of the match when Federer was caught off guard by a lob at 3-3. The World No. 48 showed signs of frustration one game later, when he committed successive groundstroke errors to gift Federer a 5-3 advantage.

Regaining his composure after the 27-minute opener, Paire saved two break points in the opening game of the second set and the used his backhand to move Federer around the court and take a 4-0 lead in 19 minutes. Paire came within two points of leading 5-0, but later at 30/40 Federer struck a backhand crosscourt winner to get one service break back. Paire held his nerve to win his first set against Federer and finished with an ace.

While Federer served first in the decider, he continued to shake his head as Paire didn’t give him any rhythm. Paire was left frustrated on Federer's serve at 3-3, when the wrong shot choice cost him at 30/30 and he later saved two match points from 15/40 at 5-6, with big first serves.

Federer led 3/1 in the deciding-set tie-break, before Paire fought back for a 5/3 advantage and held match point chances at  6/5 and 7/6. Federer saved the first match point by hitting a tricky topspin forehand from his shoelaces, inside the service box, to land on the baseline. The Swiss struck an aggressive backhand service return deep down the middle of the court on Paire's second match point, which the Frenchman ultimately lost with an unforced forehand error.

He will next play Australia’s Matthew Ebden, who beat 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany earlier in the day.

Federer has a 61-6 match record in Halle, including trophies in 2003-06, 2008, 2013-15 and 2017. With three pieces of silverware to his name in 2018 - Australian Open (d. Cilic), ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (d. Dimitrov) and last week’s Mercedes Cup (d. Raonic) - the 36-year-old Swiss is 23-2 on the year.

Date: 21 June 2018, Source: ATP and Reuters

Federer breezes past Bedene at Halle

Defending champion Roger Federer raced through his opening match at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, taking only 71 minutes to beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4. The top seed and No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings stretched his grass-court win streak to 17, dating back to last year's titles in Halle and Wimbledon and including his 98th title run last week at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

Federer fought through an eight-minute game to break Bedene and immediately grab control for a 2-0 lead. He served flawlessly, winning 84 per cent (41/49) of his service points for the match, including a hold to love for the opening set.

The Swiss right-hander then broke in the ninth game of the second set before another routine service hold clinched his place in the second round.

"I got out of the box well, I felt good right away," Federer said. "This is an easier court to play than last week in Stuttgart.

"The ball bounces up higher into my strike zone. I was connecting well on returns and I could read his serve. I played a solid first set once I figured out how to break him. In the second I was able to hold all of my serves.

"For a first round and without much play in this court, It was fine, I'm very happy."

The 36-year-old is going for his 10th Halle title (2003-06, 2008, 2013-15, 2017). Half of Federer's 18 grass-court crowns have come in the German city. He needs to repeat as Halle champion to stay No. 1, or else Rafael Nadal will reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings.

Federer improved to 60-6 in Halle. The Swiss great is just five match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 174 victories on grass. Federer's winning percentage is better, with 169 wins and 24 loses compared to Connors' record of 174-34.

Federer will next try to improve to 6-0 in his ATP Head to Head series with Frenchman Benoit Paire, who beat Steve Johnson of the U.S. 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Date: 19 June 2018, Source: ATP, AP and AFP