Roger Federer vs Milos Raonic: Stuttgart Open final preview and prediction

That set up a semifinal with Nick Kyrgios.

A single break of serve in the first set was enough for him to take that, though he did have to fend off two break points on his own delivery.

The only break of serve came in the third game of the match with Federer clinching it with a backhand victor. "We've played so many breakers already, I'm losing count", Federer told the ATP website.

Similar to past year, Federer came back during grass season, but went out in the first round at the Mercedes tournament in Stuttgart, an event he's surprisingly never won.

In the second set though, Raonic and Pouille remained strong on serve, all the way into a second-set tiebreak (Raonic has yet to have his serve broken in this tournament). But I'm happy I got it and get back to world No. 1 next Monday, so it's very exciting.

I'm first of all very pleased that I can go as a world number one to Halle, a place where I've enjoyed so much success and where I have such a close relationship to the tournament and the family and the fans over there. Federer had previously survived 7-6 (9), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5) at last year's Miami Masters, while Kyrgios scored a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12) upset at the Madrid Masters in 2015.

Federer, who has won 15 successive matches on grass since being beaten in his opening match in Stuttgart last June, knew he had to win on Saturday to knock Rafael Nadal off the top of the rankings.

"It would mean a lot to me to win Stuttgart, no doubt about it", the 20-time Grand Slam champion assured.

"I haven't faced many break points so far this week", Raonic said. "I'm really excited to play Milos".

Roger Federer has never won a title at Stuttgart.

Federer's mid-season hiatus from the demanding physicality of the clay surface has given him reason for optimism yet again.

The 36-year-old will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain his No. 1 spot ahead of Wimbledon. "I thought maybe it was going to happen again but when I picked up the half-volley I was so happy". "It's been hard the last few years but everything went in my favour, I won four matches and played really well today".

  • Stacy Allen