MercedesCup 2018

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With the clay-court season having come to a close, a new grass-court season begins, and the long-awaited return of 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is upon us.

Federer, who opted to sit out the clay-court season for a second straight year, hasn’t played since dropping his opening match in Miami to Thanasi Kokkinakis, 80 days ago on March 24:With the clay-court season having come to a close, a new grass-court season begins, and the long-awaited return of 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is upon us.

Federer, who opted to sit out the clay-court season for a second straight year, hasn’t played since dropping his opening match in Miami to Thanasi Kokkinakis, 80 days ago on March 24:Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email
After skipping the clay-court season for the second consecutive year, Roger Federer returns to the tour on grass, in Stuttgart. (Getty Images)

With the clay-court season having come to a close, a new grass-court season begins, and the long-awaited return of 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is upon us.

Federer, who opted to sit out the clay-court season for a second straight year, hasn’t played since dropping his opening match in Miami to Thanasi Kokkinakis, 80 days ago on March 24:

Before that loss, Federer posted the best start to a season in his entire career, winning his first 17 matches. Those wins included a record 20th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open, a 20th career ATP World Tour 500-level title at Rotterdam (also a record, tied with Rafael Nadal) and a runner-up finish at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells, where he lost to Juan Martin del Potro:

In May, Federer announced he would rejoin the tour at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, which takes place this week.

“Excited to announce that I will be coming back to Germany for the MercedesCup in June,” he told his fans on Facebook. “Looking forward to seeing you at the grass courts in Stuttgart!”

The Swiss will have plenty of motivation in Germany this year. Not only has he not played a match in two and a half months, but he’s actually never won the title in Stuttgart, making it as far as the semifinals in 2016 (falling to Dominic Thiem) and dropping his opener in 2017 (to Tommy Haas).

In both of those losses, he held match point (he actually held two match points against Thiem).

Federer—currently ranked No. 2 behind Nadal —can also take No. 1 back if he reaches the final here.

Making it that far won’t be easy, though. Federer opens against Mischa Zverev, against whom he’s 5-0—and 12-0 in sets. Seven of the 12 sets have, however, been 6-4 or closer (including three tiebreakers).

If he gets past Zverev, he could have a quarterfinal showdown with Denis Shapovalov—a former junior champion at Wimbledon and one of the fastest-rising young stars on the ATP World Tour right now.

And from there it gets even tougher—former Wimbledon quarterfinalists Nick Kyrgios, Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon are all potential semifinal opponents, with former Wimbledon finalists Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych as potential final opponents (as well as Lucas Pouille, the No. 2 seed this week).

But win or lose, Federer will be sure to enjoy himself at a tournament he’s always loved.

“The atmosphere at TC Weissenhof is amazing,” Federer said of the tournament venue. “You immediately feel that this club is full of life. The fans get really going during the matches. On grass, my expectations are naturally high, so I’m looking forward to once again playing in Stuttgart.”Roger Federer will make his first competitive appearance since March at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, as the 20-time Grand Slam champion begins his preparations for Wimbledon.

Federer has not played since his shock defeat to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open, after he opted to miss the clay court season for a second consecutive year, while Rafael Nadal won titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before securing a record-extending 11th French Open.

The 36-year-old, who is scheduled to complete his Wimbledon build-up at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle next week – a tournament he has won nine times – will hope to avoid a repeat of last year’s opening-match defeat to Tommy Haas.It’s not always that easy, especially on grass,” Federer, who also suffered a semi-final defeat in 2016 to eventual champion Dominic Thiem, 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 nothing and your good game is gone.

“In the last two years I lost against good players, so it also always depends on your opponent. The grass doesn’t only look good, but is really perfect.”