Home Sports Roger Federer returns at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart for grass court campaign

Roger Federer returns at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart for grass court campaign

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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.”

Federer, world No 2, can return to the summit of the men’s game if he reaches the final and will meet either Mikhail Youzhny or Mischa Zverev in his opener on Wednesday.

“I’m back again and I’ll give my best to go deeper this year,” Federer added.

“We will see how it goes in the first match. It’ll be my first match in three months, so I’m missing some match practice. I think the grass is better than in the past years. Let’s hope for some better weather.”

The field at the ATP 250 tournament also boasts Nick Kyrgios, who was forced to miss Roland Garros through injury, defending champion Lucas Pouille, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and Canadian compatriot Denis Shapovalov.

The Libema Open in S-Hertogenbosch, initially scheduled to have been Andy Murray’s comeback appearance before his decision to pull out, will feature French duo Adrian Mannarino and Richard Gasquet along with Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.

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