HALLE WESTFALEN (Germany) • Borna Coric ended Roger Federer's 20-match winning streak on grass, beating him 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2 in the Halle Open final yesterday while also bringing to a halt the Swiss' reign as world No. 1.
Federer was denied a 10th title in the German grasscourt tournament as Croatian Coric handed the 36-year-old his first setback on an otherwise serene road towards defending his Wimbledon title.
The defeat meant that Rafael Nadal will return to the top of the world rankings today.
World No. 34 Coric, playing in his first grasscourt final, fended off two set points before clinching the opening set.
Federer then broke in the eighth game to force a decider. In the final set, the 21-year-old broke the Swiss in the sixth game, going on to claim only his second ATP title.
Federer remains two matches away from matching Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 174 victories on the surface as he also missed out on a 99th career title.
"Many congratulations Borna for your first grass title," Federer said in the post-match presentation. "You played a wonderful match and deserved to win at the end."
The Swiss, who lifted the Stuttgart title last week, will be bidding for a record-extending ninth men's singles crown at Wimbledon, which begins on July 2.
"Winning always feels good, losing should hurt and it does a bit," 20-time Major winner Federer said.
"I played what I thought was my best match of the week today.
"I didn't play badly, but it didn't go my way, that's unfortunate. I leave with my head held high."