It might look like this week’s Mercedes Cup is the “Roger Federer Open” with no other players ranked in the Top 15, but a minefield awaits the Swiss who is coming off an extended break after skipping the claycourt season.
By reaching the final in Stuttgart this week Federer can re-take the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal.
“I think that’s a bit of extra motivation,” Federer said of the No. 1 ranking perch. “But then again, having lost here last year in the first round, for me, it resets the goals as well, and just take it one at a time and don’t think too far ahead. Not that I did that last year, but on grass, margins are very slim. It’s not so simple, especially when you haven’t played in three months.”
Federer has not reached the final in Stuttgart in two attempts, last year losing in the first round to the now-retired Tommy Haas.
“I came back very strong and my reaction was very good after losing here against Tommy,” Federer said. “I didn’t drop a set for the rest of the grasscourt season, which I was very happy about. So I just hope I can find my rhythm and range a bit earlier. But very excited to be here. I’m motivated because of all these reasons. It’s been a while, I haven’t played matches, so I’m happy. Obviously I don’t want to be on a three-match losing streak…I want to break that as well.”
Federer will open against Mischa Zverev, who he is 5-0 career against, on Wednesday.
“I’m fresh, I’m healthy,” Federer said. “That’s why I’m happy and confident to be here that things can turn out very well for me this week.”
STUTTGART, Germany; surface: grass
Seeds: Roger Federer, Lucas Pouille, Tomas Berdych, Nick Kyrgios, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Feliciano Lopez
Floaters: Max Marterer, Benoit Paire
Federer is 164-24 lifetime on grass with the best win percentage on the surface in the Open Era (.872). If he wins the title he can break his own Open Era record of 36 consecutive sets won on grass set in 2003-04…
The Top 4 seeds receive opening-round byes…
Openers of interest are (4) Kyrgios in only his fifth tournament of the year struggling with injury vs. the riser Marterer, and (1) Federer vs. the net-rushing elder Zverev…
Federer’s likely road to the final will go through Zverev, (6) Shapavalov, (4) Kyrgios, and the defending champ (2) Pouille in the championship match…
Wildcards went to Berdych and Germans Yannick Maden and Rudolf Molleker…
Withdrawing from the tournament were French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, Peter Gojowczyk, Chung Hyeon, David Ferrer and Gael Monfils…
Pouille, the lone former champ in the field, in last year’s final came from a set down to defeat Lopez.
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