Tennis: Roger Federer closes in on a century of ATP titles with Stuttgart crown ahead of return to No. 1 spot

Roger Federer hitting a return to Milos Raonic during their match at the Stuttgart Open on June 17, 2018.
Roger Federer hitting a return to Milos Raonic during their match at the Stuttgart Open on June 17, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

STUTTGART, Germany (AFP, REUTERS) - Roger Federer claimed his 98th ATP Tour tennis title on Sunday (June 17), with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) defeat of Milos Raonic in the grass-court Stuttgart Cup final.

The Swiss great, who will be chasing a ninth Wimbledon triumph and 21st Grand Slam crown next month, beat his Canadian opponent for the 11th time in 14 meetings while winning a first Stuttgart title.

Federer's 78-minute win was the perfect tonic in the build-up to defending his Wimbledon crown, having extended his unbeaten 12-month sequence in grass-court matches to 16.

Federer, who beat Raonic en route to winning Wimbledon last year, broke the Canadian's powerful serve just once in the third game but with his own delivery proving unbreachable, it was enough for him to win the first set.

In a decisive tie-break after no breaks in the second set, a double fault from Raonic paved the way for Federer, playing his first tournament in 11 weeks after giving the clay-court campaign a miss, to claim victory.

The 36-year-old will regain the world No. 1 ranking on Monday from his great rival Rafael Nadal and is playing next week as top seed in Halle.

Federer will begin a record-extending 310th week at the top of the ranking and if he manages to retain his Halle grass-court crown, he will then seek a landmark 100th career title at Wimbledon.

American Jimmy Connors is the all-time leader with 109 career singles titles.