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By Richard Pagliario


Regaining global supremacy didn’t diminish Roger Federer’s championship acceleration.


A day after returning to the top of the world, Federer remains a world-beater on grass.


The top-seeded Federer dispatched Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3), claiming his third title of the season on the Stuttgart lawn while extending his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches.


It is Federer’s 98th career title, including his 18th grass-court crown.


The eight-time Wimbledon champion arrived in Stuttgart seeking to find his match legs playing his first tournament in 11 weeks.


Ultimately, Federer found his legs, his game, the world No. 1 ranking and a new set of wheels walking off with the champion’s check and a new white Mercedes-Benz courtesy of the tournament sponsor.


“I’m really happy,” said Federer after seizing his first Stuttgart title. “I thought it was a good final from my side. I think I played very well throughout the tournament actually.


“It’s a great comeback for me, same for Milos. I think we’re both happy with this tournament. Maybe I was a little bit better on the bigger points. I’m so happy to win here in Stuttgart on my third attempt.”


The 36-year-old Federer dropped two sets in four tournament wins improving his record to 21-2 on the season while solidifying his status as the Wimbledon favorite.


Federer permitted just six points on first serve, threw down four love holds and denied both break points he faced in the fourth game defeating Raonic for the 11th time in 14 meetings.


Playing for his first title since he toppled Federer in the 2016 Brisbane final, Raonic hit 14 aces and dropped serve just once, but could not stay in step with the Swiss.


“One question Roger, with all the people that congratulate you I’m sure you never get sick of it do you?” a bemused Raonic asked during the trophy presentation. “As hard as it is: congratulations Roger for a great week.”


The 35th-ranked Canadian had not surrendered serve en route to his first final since the 2017 Istanbul.


It didn’t take Federer long to change that fact.


Whipping a diagonal forehand gained the top-seeded Swiss double break point in the third game.


Reading Raonic’s serve, Federer flicked a slick angled backhand return breaking at 15.


Facing double break point in the ensuing game, Federer used the wide serve and forehand down the line to tame trouble backing up the break for 3-1.


That two-game swing essentially decided the first set.


“That one game I got broken, [he hit an] incredible return to break me, incredible passing as well,” Raonic said. “I played one bad point the first game. I didn’t do too much wrong. Maybe I could do things a little bit differently, but nothing terribly differently.


“I had chances to break back. I hit the line, bad bounce and he hit an incredible pass off it as well. Overall, not much really changed. He guessed the right way on the break point, hit an incredible return, executed it and that’s why he’s an incredibly good tennis player.”


Fluid movement, superior versatility and sharpness changing direction have all helped Federer dominate this rivalry. The 36-year-old Swiss beats Raonic to the ball and can command the center of the court in their baseline exchanges.


In prior encounters, Raonic has tried to take the net away from Federer. Today, Federer was flowing forward at the start blocking an angled backhand volley to wrap his first love hold for 5-3.


Straddling the baseline, the top seed followed a slice forward and knocked off a stretch volley for triple set point. Federer sealed a one-set lead at love. Federer won 17 of 19 first-serve points collecting the 33-minute opener.


To his credit, the man in black asserted his serve with more authority to start the second set. Raonic won 12 of the first 14 points played on serve and pumped four aces building a 3-2 second-set lead.


A two-ace game fueled Raonic through a fast hold for 5-4.


By then the 2016 Wimbledon finalist had won 20 of 24 points played on his serve in the second set.


Sixty-seven minutes into the match, Raonic ran through a routine backhand volley netting it to fall behind 15-30 on serve. Raonic ripped his 14th ace in response then slid successive volley winners snuffing out the threat to hold in the 11th game.


Serving to force the tie break, Federer fended off a love-30 deficit breezing through four straight points to bring the breaker.


The top-seeded Swiss had won six of their prior 10 tie breaks and lifted his level again in today’s breaker.


The pair traded mini-breaks at the start. Federer fired his fourth ace for 4-3 then Raonic blinked coughing up his third double fault to gift the mini break.


Dancing to his right, Federer blurred a running forehand pass by the lunging Canadian. That clean winner gave him triple championship point.


On the sixth shot of the ensuing rally, Raonic netted a forehand. Federer thrust his arms in the air as his team, including father Robert Federer wearing a white “RF” baseball cap, leaped from their seats after a one hour, 18-minute triumph.


How will winning Stuttgart and regaining No. 1 impact Federer’s game and confidence as he gears up to try to defend his Wimbledon crown?


“We’ll see. I have no idea how this is gonna help me,” Federer said. “I was hoping to maybe play a couple of matches here. I played four and won them all. I really hope I can keep it up in Halle and at Wimbledon. And also I think it’s gonna give me a boost being back at No. 1 as well.”


Editors Note: O.K. • It’s Father’s Day … So did Robbie Federer join the TEAM in Germany to drive Rogi’s new car home? Or is it a FaTHERs DaY GIFT? As tennis parents go. Roger is blessed with two of the best!

As a Daddy himself Roger is amazing how he juggles those beautiful double set of twins he and Mirka are blessed with. Great week for the Federer family. Happy Father’s Day guys…. Let us know who gets that beast of a beauty of that MERCEDES…. What amazing cars they are. Vroom vroom.

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