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ROGER FEDERER BATTLES PAST KYRGIOS • TO PLAY RAONIC IN ATP MERCEDES TENNIS STUTTGART FINAL

Photo by @ATPWorldTour via Twitter
@rogerfederer defeats Nick Kyrgios 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) to reach the @MercedesCup final and guarantee that he will regain the No. 1 ATP Ranking on Monday.

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios actually played a set against each other that did not go to a tiebreaker for the first time ever, but a third-set ‘breaker still had to separate them–again–in the semifinals of the Mercedes Cup on Saturday.

 

In their third career head-to-head contest (all best-of-three situations), Federer and Kyrgios played their seventh and eighth tiebreakers as the Swiss prevailed 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) after one hour and 51 minutes. Federer had previously survived 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5) at last year’s Miami Masters, while Kyrgios scored a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) upset at the Madrid Masters in 2015.

 

Only in the second set did this one deviate from the norm. Kyrgios coughed up to consecutive double-faults to get broken at 1-1 before all but waving the white flag for the remainder of the set.

 

In a seemingly inevitable third-set ‘breaker, Federer and Kyrgios took turns leading by mini-breaks. The latter pocketed an early advantage only to see the former seize the upper hand, but Federer sent a forehand well past the baseline at 5-4 to bring Kyrgios back on level terms. With the world No. 24 serving at 5-6, Federer sliced a low backhand return to set up what proved to be the final blow–a clinching backhand passing shot.

 

“I’m very happy; very relieved,” said Federer, who will regain the No. 1 ranking next week. “I thought it was a tough match (like) I expected against Nick. We’ve played so many breakers already, I’m losing count. 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.”

 

Up next for Federer is Milos Raonic, who beat Lucas Pouille 6-4, 7-6(3).

 

“It would mean a lot to me to win Stuttgart, no doubt about it,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion assured. “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.”

 

Federer and Raonic will be facing each other for the 14th time in their careers on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 10-3 in favor of Federer, who has won three of their four previous grass-court meetings. They have split a pair of Wimbledon encounters the past two years, with Raonic getting the job done 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a semifinal showdown before Federer coasted 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(4) in a quarterfinal contest.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

Editors Note: That “Cheeky” NICK! He actually gave Roger Federer a friendly tap on his butt as he exited the court.

This time of year the players take off their grass court shoes prior to exiting the court. So Nick was still on court as RF was talking to on court interview. It was really cute. Or ️sweet. We LOVE the Uber talented mercurial ️Nick. We always have. We love to watch him play. It was a great match.

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