What’s the story?
Roger Federer confirmed his return to the top spot in the ATP World Rankings to be released on June 18 after edging the fourth seeded Nick Kyrgios 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) in a tight semi-final at the Mercedes Cup 2018 in Stuttgart on Saturday. This will be the Swiss maestro’s third stint at the numero uno ranking this year, which has switched hands between Federer and Rafael Nadal only in the first six months of the season.
Federer will need to defend his title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle next week to be able to enter the Wimbledon Championships as the World No. 1.
In case you didn’t know
Last year, Federer did not have the best of starts to his grasscourt season as he slumped to a shock three-set defeat to Tommy Haas in his first match at this very tournament. Since then, the 20-time Grand Slam champion did not lose another set on the lustrous green surface in 2017, powering through 12 wins that gave him titles at Halle and at Wimbledon.
It was only in the second round of Stuttgart this year that his set streak came to an end when he dropped the opener to Mischa Zverev before rebounding for a three-set win. With this latest win, the soon-to-be-World No. 1 has compiled 15 consecutive wins on the slick surface.
The heart of the matter
Federer first regained the much-coveted top spot in February after prevailing over Robin Haase at ATP Rotterdam. It was the first time in five years that the legend was back at the pinnacle of the rankings.
With his early loss at the Miami Open, he again relinquished the ranking to his biggest nemesis, Nadal. The latter held it for most of the clay season with the exception of one week.
On conclusion of the French Open, the Spaniard once again led Federer by just 100 points and it was a matter of time before the eight-time Wimbledon champion snatched it back.
In the summit clash, Federer will take on the seventh seeded Milos Raonic in a rematch of their epic 2016 Wimbledon semi-final in which the Canadian had prevailed over the Swiss in five sets. Federer did avenge that defeat the very next year in the quarter-finals of the grasscourt Major.
Raonic upset the second seeded Lucas Pouille 6-4, 7-6(3) in the other semi-final at Stuttgart.
Do you think Federer can start off his grasscourt season with a title at Stuttgart? Have your say in the comments.