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Federer makes history in Dubai, wins 100th title

Roger Federer made history at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win his 100th tour-level title.

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Federer in fine form as Switzerland win Hopman Cup

Roger Federer became the most successful player in Hopman Cup history when he led Switzerland to a 2-1 win in an enthralling final of the mixed teams tournament in Perth.

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Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass

Roger Federer claimed his 98th tour-level title and 18th grass-court trophy, displayed his unrivalled superiority on grass with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Milos Raonic in the Mercedes Cup final in Stuttgart.

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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.

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

Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass

Roger Federer claimed his 98th tour-level title and 18th grass-court trophy, displayed his unrivalled superiority on grass with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Milos Raonic in the Mercedes Cup final in Stuttgart. He extending his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches dating back to victories at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

"I'm really happy. I thought it was a good final from my side. I think I played very well throughout the tournament, actually, having not played for a while. It's a great comeback for me," Federer said. "Maybe I was a little bit better on the bigger points. Of course I'm so happy to have won here, finally, in Stuttgart."

The 36-year-old, who was also victorious at the Australian Open and the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament earlier this year, has now earned three or more triumphs in 13 of the past 15 seasons. The Swiss is now 18-6 in grass-court finals, with all six of his losses coming against opponents who cracked the Top 2 of the ATP Rankings in their career.

By reaching the championship match in Stuttgart, Federer guaranteed that he will climb to World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, doing so for the third time this season. He will need to retain his Halle title next week if he is to maintain the top spot ahead of Wimbledon. Federer now leads Raonic 11-3 in their ATP Head to Head series, and 4-1 on grass courts, winning his past five sets against the Canadian.

Federer dropped serve just twice en route to the title, holding on 48 of 50 attempts. He now holds a 168-24 (87.5%) tour-level record on grass. He is now 98-50 in tour-level finals. He has won 65 of those championship matches in straight sets.

Raonic entered the final having won all 41 of his service games in the tournament. But Federer wasted little time making his mark on that statistic, breaking at 1-1 in the opening set with an inside-out backhand return winner. There were no breaks of serve in the second set. And it was Federer who held firm under pressure. Raonic double-faulted to give Federer a 5/3 lead in the tie-break, and that was the only edge the Swiss needed.

It was not that Raonic played poorly. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The Canadian, who led the tournament by winning 70 per cent of his second serve points ahead of the final, won 72 per cent of his service points overall and faced just one break point. But on the biggest points, the Swiss was in control of the pace of play, either choosing to swoop into net for a putaway volley, or moving the 27-year-old around the baseline.

"I played great in the big moments," Federer said. "At the end, I played some of my best tennis. It's a great feeling."

Federer showed an astute use of tactics in his final service game before the second-set tie-break. The Canadian earned a 0/30 advantage, threatening to send the final to a deciding set. But Federer hit four consecutive serves to Raonic's forehand - three of which were first serves - capturing each of the points without a return coming back into the court. The 36-year-old served well all day, winning 86 per cent (38/44) of first-serve points. And while he hit only four aces, Federer kept his opponent off balance, holding to love four times.

"I had some chances today but couldn’t convert them. All in all it was very positive for me and I hope to keep that trend going," Raonic said. "I’m not far off from my best grass tennis. Maybe I’m lacking the confidence for the right decision still. I hit the ball well, my service is good. Maybe I need a few more matches to get the confidence to make the right decisions in a split second."

Date: 17 June 2018, Source: ATP and AFP

Federer beats Kyrgios to regain No.1 spot

Roger Federer will be back as World Number one in the new rankings next week after coming from behind to beat Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the semi-finals of Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

"I'm very happy, very relieved. I thought it was a tough match like I expected against Nick. We've played so many tie-breaks already, I'm losing count," Federer said. "It was close. It could have gone either way, naturally. But I'm happy I got it and get back to World No. 1 next Monday, so it's very exciting. And I've got another final, so it's great news."

It is the Swiss’ first tournament in 11 weeks, going back to the Miami Open. A year ago, Federer lost in his opening-round match in Stuttgart after opting not to play during the clay-court season. But this time around, he is into the final. The 36-year-old arrived this week with a 2-2 record at the tournament.

Trailing Rafael Nadal by 100 points entering the week, Federer needed to reach at least the championship match to ensure he will climb to World No. 1 on 18 June. Otherwise, he would not have had  another opportunity to do so on the mown lawns, having won titles in Halle and Wimbledon last year. That means that Federer cannot gain any more points during the grass-court season after this week.

In February, Federer returned to World No. 1 for the first time since 4 November 2012, which is the longest gap between a player's stints atop the ATP Rankings. Federer, held the top spots for six weeks and then took it back from Nadal for one more week beginning on 14 May.

On Sunday, Federer will face a familiar foe in Milos Raonic as he attempts to lift his 98th tour-level trophy and 18th grass-court title. The 36-year-old leads the Canadian 10-3 in their ATP Head to Head series, which includes a 3-1 edge on grass.

"It would mean a lot to me to win Stuttgart, no doubt about it," Federer said. "I'm really excited to play Milos. He's in great shape again. It's nice for him, and I hope we can play another great match and I'm really excited to be in the final here."

Date: 16 June 2018, Source: ATP and Reuters

Federer makes winning return in Stuttgart

Wimbledon champion Roger Federer made a victorious return to action as he recovered from a set down to beat Germany's Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at the Stuttgart Open on Wednesday.

The Swiss top seed, who skipped the entire European claycourt swing to concentrate on the grasscourt season, showed signs of rust early on against Zverev but it did not take too long for him to rediscover his rhythm.

“Three months is a long time, it's longer than the year-end break. So I'm very happy returning on good terms onto the Tour,” Federer said. “It was difficult, I missed some chances in the first set, played one bad service game and he connected well at the right times, and I got behind.

“And then I found a way, I found my rhythm. I'm very happy with how I played. I'm super happy to be back on Tour. It's been a great start.”

Federer can reclaim the No. 1 ATP Ranking from long-time rival Rafael Nadal with a run to the championship match in Stuttgart. The 36-year-old lost to Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis on 24 March during his opening match at the Miami Open.

The Swiss has long favoured the grass. Seventeen - nine at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and eight at Wimbledon - of Federer's 97 tour-level titles have come on the surface, and he's won 87 per cent (165/189) of his grass-court matches.

Zverev, though, covered the net well and landed enough first serves to take advantage of a slow start from the Swiss. Federer had four break chances during Zverev's first three service games, but the German erased them all and then broke Federer to love in the eighth game. The German had never won a set against Federer in their five prior ATP Head to Head meetings, including three on grass, but he clinched the opener with a drop volley.

“It was difficult from the start. We both knew, going into the match, a passing shot here or there, or maybe a half volley, a return or a pick-up or something was going to make the difference,” said Federer. “I think maybe I just created a few more opportunities than he did. I was able to play better as the match went on and that is something I can really build on.”

Federer cranked it up a level in the second set, twice breaking Zverev to force the decider. Federer began to pick apart the lefty's serve-and-volley tactics even more in the third set, breaking again the fourth and eighth games.

“It feels good to win again. I've lost my last two matches,” said Federer, who lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final before playing in Miami. “It's nice to get a fresh start here.”

The top seed had fallen to Tommy Haas in his Stuttgart opener last year. Federer will next meet Argentine Guido Pella or Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

Date: 13 June 2018, Source: Reuters and ATP

Federer ready for return in Stuttgart grass

Roger Federer makes his long-awaited return to action this week at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, competing for the first time since Miami in March. And right away, there is a lot on the line for the Swiss. If the top seed reaches the final, he will regain the No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings on 18 June.

“I think that’s a bit of extra motivation,” said Federer, who trails Nadal by 100 points. “But then again, having lost here last year in the first round, for me, it resets the goals as well, and just take it one at a time and don’t think too far ahead. Not that I did that last year, but on grass, margins are very slim. It’s not so simple, especially when you haven’t played in three months.”

Despite his reign of dominance on grass, posting an Open Era best 164-24 record (.872) in the ATP, he acknowledges the challenges that the ATP World Tour 250 event poses.

“It’s not always that easy, especially on grass,” Federer said ahead of the tournament. “The rallies are short, a few points decide them. It was like that two years ago against Dominic Thiem and last year I lost against Tommy Haas after having a match point.”

The World No. 2 is making his third straight tournament appearance, having reached the semi-finals in 2016 (l. to Thiem) and suffered a first-round exit in 2017 (l. to Haas). But he then went on to triumph at Halle and Wimbledon, building what would turn into a 16-match winning streak.

“I came back very strong and my reaction was very good after losing here against Tommy,” Federer said. “I didn’t drop a set for the rest of the grass-court season, which I was very happy about. So I just hope I can find my rhythm and range a bit earlier. But very excited to be here. I’m motivated because of all these reasons. It’s been a while, I haven’t played matches, so I’m happy. Obviously I don’t want to be on a three-match losing streak. I want to break that as well.”

“I’m back again and I’ll give my best to go deeper this year,” Federer added. “We will see how it goes in the first match. It’ll be my first match in three months, so I’m missing some match practice. I think the grass is better than in the past years. Let’s hope for some better weather.”

More than anything, Federer is excited to get back on the court for match action again. He will play Mischa Zverev, who he has beaten in all five of their previous ATP Head to Head meetings, on Wednesday.

“I’m fresh, I’m healthy,” Federer said. “That’s why I’m happy and confident to be here that things can turn out very well for me this week.”

Date: 11 June 2018, Source: ATP