Significance of Roger Federer’s 2018 Stuttgart Open win

Jun 19 3 min read

10:30 am

Roger Federer on Flickr byFrancisco Antunes under CC2.0

Roger Federer defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 to mark his return to tennis with the Stuttgart Open title - his 98th title overall and third of the season after victories at the Australian Open and World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The top seed had lost consecutive matches at Stuttgart coming into this year’s event. Interestingly, both of those losses had come after winning the first set. However, with victory over Raonic, Federer has now extended his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches.

The Swiss great, who is assured of reclaiming the throne from Rafael Nadal on Monday, said that being the World No.1 gives him extra confidence. However, Federer will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain top spot ahead of Wimbledon. Meanwhile, Nadal has withdrawn from Queen’s next week meaning he will head into Wimbledon without any grass-court events under his belt this year.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. Maybe I was a little bit better on the bigger points. Of course I'm so happy to have won here, finally, in Stuttgart. I think it is going to give me a boost being back at world No 1, Federer said.

"It's a wonderful feeling. I fought hard. When you finally manage it, the joy is even greater. We’ll see how I play next week. I have no idea what is going to happen but I hope I can continue to play good tennis. I wanted to have a few matches on my return and I played four matches and won them all which is very good. I hope I can keep up.

But this tournament was a welcome return to winning ways for Federer, who hadn’t won an ATP tour level title since winning at Rotterdam in February. Although Federer is scheduled to play at Halle before beginning his Wimbledon campaign, the extra match practice and the confidence that comes from beating dangerous grass court players like Kyrgios and Raonic are always good for the Swiss veteran.

This is especially true since Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row, and has been on a lengthy 11-week sabbatical after an early exit at the Miami Open cost him the World No. 1 ranking. This also means Federer will now definitely be the top seed at Wimbledon and helps his title defence at the All England Club, as he chases championship number nine.

Federer, who beat Raonic en route to winning Wimbledon last year, broke the Canadian’s powerful serve to win the first set – an important factor in itself as the Canadian had entered the final having won all 41 of his service games. Federer also broke another big server twice at this event, in the form of Aussie powerhouse Nick Kyrgios during the semi-final.

Both Kyrgios and Raonic played some of their finest grass court tennis this week. Kyrgios was thundering down 130mph serves all week, displaying levels of composure that the Aussie has never displayed on grass before. Meanwhile, Raonic won 72% of his service points against Federer and faced just one break point. But on the biggest points, the Swiss was in control and managed to turn the match in his favour.

Federer’s return game will be crucial to his Wimbledon title defence, as his own serve has looked impregnable on grass over the years. All of Federer’s losses at Wimbledon have been a result of his inability to break his opponent’s serve. Grass is particularly tricky in this regard, as going down a break against a good server often means you lose the set.

If Federer wins the Halle event and follows it up with an unprecedented ninth victory at Wimbledon, it will mark a landmark 100th career ATP title for the Swiss legend, taking him even closer to surpassing Jimmy Connors’ all-time records of 109 titles and 1256 match wins.