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Federer wins in Stuttgart over Raonic, nears title No. 100 which could come at Wimbledon


By Ricky Dimon


Roger Federer captured the 98th title of his career on Sunday afternoon at the Mercedes Cup, defeating Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3) in the final.


For those counting, yes, that means Wimbledon could be title No. 100 for Federer. He will have that chance he if he picks up trophy No. 99 this upcoming week at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.


But back to Stuttgart. This most recent success for the 20-time Grand Slam champion came following another two-month absence, as he skipped the clay-court swing just as he did last spring. This time around, though, Federer did not lose right away in his comeback match. Erasing the memories of an opening loss Tommy Haas at the 2017 Stuttgart event, the 36-year-old completed a four-match run featuring victories over Mischa Zverev, Guido Pella, Nick Kyrgios, and Raonic.


In Sunday’s title tilt, Federer saved both of the break points he faced, struck four aces without double-faulting, and withstood 14 aces off the Raonic racket.


“I’m really happy,” the Swiss said. “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. Maybe I was a little bit better (than Raonic) on the bigger points.


“Of course I’m so happy to have won here, finally, in Stuttgart. It’s been difficult the last [couple of] years; (I) lost a [couple of] tight matches. But not this year. They went my way, so I’m very happy.”


“I had some chances today but couldn’t convert them,” Raonic assessed. “All in all it was very positive for me and I hope to keep that trend going. 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.”


At the Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, an all-French affair saw Richard Gasquet 6-3, 7-6(5) beat Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6(5). Gasquet failed to fight off any of the two break points he faced, but he broke Chardy three times before crossing the finish line in one hour and 30 minutes.


“It is great to win a title again,” the former world No. 7 assured. “It [has been] two years that I didn’t win. It is my 15th (title), so it is unusual. It is very tough to win on the ATP World Tour…. I am very happy to win here, it is a great tournament and I am very proud about [winning] it.”


“I started my grass-court season really well with two really good weeks,” reflected Chardy, who won the Surbiton Challenger last week. “[It is] a lot of confidence for me…. I am really happy with my match today. I think I played a good match from the beginning to the end, but Richard was just a little bit better than me. He deserved to win.”


“It is never easy playing a friend, but we are used to playing a lot of French players throughout the year,” Gasquet explained. “Of course it is not my first time, but it is never easy.”


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

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