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Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass


STUTTGART, Germany — Canadian Milos Raonic was looking at the bigger picture after a loss to Roger Federer on Sunday morning in the Stuttgart Open final.

Raonic, who sat out some clay-court tournaments, including the French Open, with an undisclosed injury last month, fell 6-4, 7-6 (3) to Federer in Sunday's title match on grass.

"It was a good week for me with a lot of positives. I'm happy to be back and healthy," Raonic tweeted after the match. "Today didn't go the way I wanted, but I'm looking forward to building on this result. Congratulations @rogerfederer and thank you Stuttgart."

Federer, also marking his return from three months off, is assured of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on Monday.

He broke at 1-1 in the opening set and held his nerve in the second, where Raonic double-faulted.

"I had some chances today but couldn't convert them," Raonic said.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row, but he wrapped up his 18th grass-court title in 1 hour and 18 minutes — his 98th title overall and third of the season after victories at the Australian Open and World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

"It's a wonderful feeling. I fought hard. When you finally manage it, the joy is even greater," said Federer, who extended his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches including his titles at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The 36-year-old will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain his No. 1 spot ahead of Wimbledon.

Raonic, who has won eight career ATP titles, reached a career-high No. 3 in the world rankings in November 2016. He was making his first final appearance since falling to Marin Cilic last June at the Istanbul Open.

"I'm not far off from my best grass tennis," Raonic said. "Maybe I'm lacking the confidence for the right decision still. I hit the ball well, my service is good. Maybe I need a few more matches to get the confidence to make the right decisions in a split second."

Raonic has a quick turnaround for his next tournament — the Fever-Tree Championships in London, which begins Monday. Raonic plays Yuki Bhambri of India in his first-round match Tuesday.

"It will all depend on how many matches I get next week and then I'll decide what to do in the week before Wimbledon," Raonic said.

Federer has a 11-3 in career head-to-head meetings against the Canadian.

Federer also won their quarterfinal last year at Wimbledon while Raonic took their 2016 semifinal meeting at the All-England Club. Raonic also beat Federer to win the Brisbane International in January 2016.

— With files from The Canadian Press

The Associated Press

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