Sunday, June 17, 2018

Roger Federer 1st time Mercedes Cup Champion!

I'm sure he already has one of those, but hey what's one more, right Rog? :)

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Roger Federer might have taken 11 weeks off, but the Swiss wasted no time jumping back into the winners’ circle.

The top seed defeated No. 7 seed and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3) to capture the MercedesCup title on Sunday, 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."

Federer's Career Record By Surface

Surface Record Winning Percentage Titles

168-24 87.5% 18

Hard 725-145 83.3% 67

Clay 214-68 75.9% 11

It is Federer’s 98th tour-level title and 18th grass-court trophy. 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 FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and 4-1 on grass courts, winning his past five sets against the Canadian.

The top seed arrived in Stuttgart holding just a 2-2 record at the event. And in both of his losses over the past two years, the Swiss held at least one match point before losing. But Federer, who began his season a career-best 17-0 before losing consecutive matches in the Indian Wells final and his Miami opener, earned four wins this week. He dropped serve just twice en route to the title, holding on 48 of 50 attempts. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, he now holds a 168-24 tour-level record on grass.

"It's been difficult the last [couple] years [in Stuttgart], lost a [couple] tight matches," Federer said. "But not this year. They went my way, so I'm very happy."

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.

Federer earns €117,030 and 250 ATP Rankings points for his efforts, while Raonic takes home €61,635 and 150 points. It was a successful week for the eight-time ATP World Tour titlist, who is now 8-14 in tour-level finals. This was Raonic's first final since the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open last year.

"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."

Did You Know?

Roger Federer is now 98-50 in tour-level finals. He has won 65 of those championship matches in straight sets.

Title # 98 for the King of Grass :)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Roger Federer fights past Nick Kyrgios to reach Mercedes Cup final in Stuttgart

Back to World #1 :)

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Top seed Roger Federer defeated No. 4 seed Nick Kyrgios 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) on Saturday in the MercedesCup semi-finals, guaranteeing that he will return to the top of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

"I'm very happy, very relieved. I thought it was a tough match [like] I expected against Nick. We've played so many breakers 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 presented by Itau. 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. The 36-year-old leads the Canadian 10-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head 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."

It looked like the Swiss' hopes were slipping away when Kyrgios hit a rocket-like crosscourt forehand passing shot to gain a mini-break lead in the final-set tie-break. But Federer was the steadier player, shoveling a short backhand past Kyrgios on his first match point to clinch the victory after one hour, 52 minutes and earn a chance to play for his 18th grass-court title.

FedEx ATP Head2Head Series: Roger Federer vs. Nick Kyrgios
 Winner Tournament Score
 Nick Kyrgios 2015 Mutua Madrid Open 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12)
 Roger Federer 2017 Miami Open presented by Itau 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5)
 Roger Federer 2018 MercedesCup 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5)

This was the pair's third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, with their series tied at 1-1 entering the match. Interestingly, their first six sets all went to tie-breaks. So it was no surprise that the first set on Saturday went to a seventh consecutive tie-break. Kyrgios, who saved the only two break points of the set, earned a mini-break lead for 3/1, dictating play with a series of down-the-line backhands before aggressively taking a final backhand crosscourt that the Swiss could not handle. The Aussie did not look back from there, confidently closing out the opener.

But as well as Kyrgios served under pressure in the first set, it proved his undoing in the second. The Australian went for two big second serves at 1-1, hitting back-to-back double faults to concede an early break. His frustration from that slip-up showed, as Kyrgios whipped an inside-out forehand from his back foot into the net to give Federer a second break.

But Kyrgios regrouped, and the decider was tight throughout. Neither player faced a break point, with the pair playing their eighth tie-break. And while Kyrgios hit two massive serves in the opening-set tie-break to consolidate his mini-break, Federer did not allow Kyrgios to widen his lead in the final-set tie-break. With the Aussie leading 3/1, Federer pinned him back with a deep return, before forcing an error with a heavy forehand approach shot to the backhand.

Federer won 81 per cent of his service points in the match, and did not face a break point. He excelled on his second serve, winning 75 per cent of points on his second delivery, mixing up placement well throughout the match.

It was a strong effort by Kyrgios, who showed little rust in his first singles tournament in two months, as the 23-year-old has been recovering from a right elbow injury. Earlier this year, the Canberran won his fourth ATP World Tour title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp, his first triumph in Australia. In May, he captured his maiden tour-level doubles title alongside Jack Sock at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

Did You Know?

Roger Federer and Milos Raonic have met at Wimbledon in each of the past two years. Federer won last year en route to the title, while Raonic triumphed in 2016 to reach his maiden Grand Slam final.

That 3rd set tie-break though.  Talk about a close one!. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Roger Federer will meet Kyrgios next at Mercedes Cup semis in Stuttgart

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Roger Federer is now one win away from reclaiming the No. 1 ATP Ranking from Rafael Nadal.

The Swiss No. 1 seed defeated Argentine Guido Pella 6-4, 6-4 at the MercedesCup on Friday in his second match since 24 March. Trailing Nadal by just 100 points entering the week, Federer needs to reach the final in Stuttgart to guarantee his third stint atop the rankings this season.

"I thought I was in good control today. I thought I served well. I didn't give Guido many chances to get into my service games, except maybe the last couple," Federer said. "I was happy that I also got more rhythm today."

Despite being two triumphs from taking World No. 1 on 18 June, Federer says it didn't cross his mind while he was playing Pella.

"Funny enough, I didn't think of it today," Federer said. "I was really just focused on the task at hand. But I'm sure that the next match, especially now that you reminded me as well, I will think of it. It's all good. In the match that you play for World No. 1, it's clearly going to be in the back of your head."

He will next face talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who defeated 2017 Fever-Tree Championships winner Feliciano Lopez in three sets. Federer and Kyrgios's FedEx ATP Head2Head series is knotted at 1-1, with all six of their sets going to tie-breaks.

The 36-year-old has already doubled his victory total in Stuttgart this week after arriving in Germany this year with a 2-2 record at the event. One year ago, Federer fell against then-World No. 302 Tommy Haas in his opening match. This year's Australian Open and Rotterdam champion is attempting to win his 18th grass-court trophy. With his triumph against Pella, Federer has won 14 consecutive matches on the mown lawns dating back to title runs at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The Swiss showed his prowess on the surface, frequently swooping to net with swift aplomb against the left-handed Pella, who had not won a tour-level grass-court match (0-4) before this tournament. Federer lost just one point on serve in the first set, earning a break with a whipping inside-out forehand winner. He didn't let slip the momentum, dancing on the grass to hit an inside-in forehand passing shot for an immediate break in the second set.

"I thought I was able to stay aggressive. I really wanted to cut down the length of the points as much as possible to see how that goes," Federer said. "I think that was a good decision."

Federer faced only one moment of difficulty, falling behind 15/40 while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. But Federer battled through with strong serving.

Did You Know?

Roger Federer got off to a career-best 17-0 start in 2018, before losing back-to-back matches in the Indian Wells final (l. to Del Potro) and his Miami opener (l. to Kokkinakis).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Roger Federer makes happy return to grass court tennis at Marcedes Cup in Stuttgart

Roger Federer Tumblr

Swiss had fallen to Haas during his Stuttgart opener last year

Roger Federer showed some rust but the Swiss legend ultimately settled enough into his first match in nearly three months to advance on Wednesday at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

The No. 2 player in the ATP Rankings came back to beat home favourite Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in front of, as customary, a pro-Federer crowd.

“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, missed some chances maybe in the first set... He connected well at the right times.

“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 presented by Itau before skipping the entire European clay-court swing for the second year in a row.

But 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 FedEx ATP Head2Head 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.

A little rusty, nothing more match play can't fix.  And he didn't lose in the first round this time. Progress. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Roger Federer clears up rumors about leaving Nike

Federer has been with the American sports brand since breaking through as a youngster and he has donned their jerseys throughout all 20 Grand Slam title wins.

However, rumours circulated in local Swiss press yesterday that the world No 2 had signed a bumper 10-year deal with Uniqlo.

Federer had apparently penned a $30m-a-year contract (£22.4m) to represent the Japanese brand, who severed their ties with Novak Djokovic last year.

The 37-year-old says he has not yet decided which sports brand he will represent for the remainder of his career.

But Federer admitted he could still sign an extension with Nike - if the deal is right for both parties.

"It has already expired in March and we are in negotiations,” Federer said.

"They are rumours and nothing is ruled out, neither my continuity in Nike nor the end of our collaboration, nor a change to any brand.”

Although now out of contract, Federer has been snapped wearing Nike clothing at the Stuttgart Open.

The Swiss star is hoping to return to the top of the world rankings by winning his opening three rounds in Germany.

Rafael Nadal is the current world No 1 and he retained his title after victory in the French Open final yesterday.

The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem in straight sets to secure his 11th Roland Garros title.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Roger Federer ready for return in Stuttgart

It's that time of year once again. The ATP World Tour's best are ready to grace the grass of Stuttgart and 's-Hertogenbosch, as the lawn tennis season begins.

And that means a familiar face is poised to make his long-awaited return. World No. 2 Roger Federer is back, competing in his first tournament since the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

For the second straight year, the Swiss will kick off his campaign on his preferred surface at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart. Plenty is at stake, with a final appearance moving Federer back to the top of the ATP Rankings. But despite his reign of dominance on grass, posting an Open Era best 164-24 record (.872) in the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, 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.

"When it’s wet it gets slippery pretty quick and you are afraid to slip. Once you play timidly all the good practice was for naught and your good game is gone. In the last two years I lost against good players, so it also always depends on your opponent. Today I had fun. The grass doesn’t only look good, but is really perfect."

Federer opens against either qualifier Mikhail Youzhny or Germany's Mischa Zverev. He owns a perfect 17-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head mark against Youzhny and an undefeated 5-0 record over Zverev. Surging #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov is seeded sixth and looms in the quarter-finals, with fourth seed Nick Kyrgios a potential semi-final opponent.

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). He is looking to go all the way this year.

"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."

So, how did Federer occupy his time during his three-month break? With four children, the Swiss valued his time spent with family and in Africa with the Roger Federer Foundation.

"We had some great vacations together as a family and then also alone," Federer reflected. "I was traveling for my foundation in Zambia and had a great time there. I hope we can make things happen and provide a better education for the kids there. I practised a lot the rest of the time and also put in some work in the gym.

"Sometimes I wish I’d had more time but the three months went past in a blur. Now I’m eager to get going again. The last few weeks were a bit boring. I want to play matches again, not only to practise. I’m very much looking forward to my first match."

Federer opens his Stuttgart campaign on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Roger Federer receives tough draw at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart

Roger Federer will make his long-awaited return to the ATP World Tour next week at the Mercedes Cup, but the Swiss star faces a tough draw in Stuttgart.

The 97-time tour-level titlist, competing for the first time since March's Miami Open presented by Ita├║, could open his campaign against serve-and-volley specialist Mischa Zverev, before potentially meeting #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the No. 6 seed, in the quarter-finals, which would be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

World No. 25 Shapovalov enjoyed a successful clay-court season, which included a run to the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, and would present a tough challenge for Federer, who is seeking his first title on the grass courts in Stuttgart. Federer owns a 2-2 record at the event, reaching the semi-finals on his debut in 2016 (l. to Thiem) before a surprising opening-match defeat to Tommy Haas in 2017.

Also in Federer's half of the draw is fellow returnee Nick Kyrgios, Roland Garros breakthrough star Maximilian Marterer and 2017 finalist Feliciano Lopez.

Headlining the bottom half of the draw is 2017 champion Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman, seeded No. 2 in the draw, could meet home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last eight, while former Wimbledon finalists Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych could wait in the semi-finals.