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Federer overpowers Dimitrov to win 97th career title

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) Roger Federer came to the ABN AMRO World Tournament aiming to secure a return to the top of the world rankings. He achieved that goal Friday. On Sunday, he put an exclamation point on a remarkable week by winning the tournament for good measure.

Federer overpowered an ailing Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour to win his 97th career title.

“What a week it’s been. Absolutely amazing,” Federer said. “The goal was to make the semis and I won the tournament so of course I’m incredibly excited and so, so happy.”

The 36-year-old Swiss extended his domination over the player once dubbed “Baby Fed” for the similarities in their playing style, registering his seventh victory in as many meetings.

Federer’s third title at the Rotterdam tournament comes a day before he officially returns to the top of the rankings, more than five years after he was last world No. 1.

He will become the oldest person to hold the No. 1 position when the rankings are updated on Monday. It’s been more than five years since Federer was last No. 1, and 14 years since he first reached the top spot.

Federer, who has 20 Grand Slams to his name, said his next target is 100 career titles. He moved a step closer Sunday.

Federer said ahead of the final that the more aggressive player would win and Dimitrov started the strongest, winning his first game to love as he slammed powerful forehands and backhands past Federer.

But the Swiss great quickly started matching Dimitrov’s groundstrokes and converted his first break point in the fifth game. Federer broke Dimitrov again to go up 5-2 and then served out the set.

Federer kept the pressure on Dimitrov in the second set, breaking the Bulgarian in the first game and continuing to dominate on his way to victory in just 55 minutes.

Federer won a massive 82 percent of points on his service compared to 55 percent for Dimitrov.

After his strong start, the Bulgarian appeared to be struggling physically, but said afterward that he simply wasn’t good enough.

“Against Roger in the current situation he is in you can’t play any less than 100 percent,” Dimitrov said.

Murray excited to end 11-month absence at Queen’s this week

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray is excited to be returning at the pre-Wimbledon Queen’s Club event this week after the former top-ranked player in the world experienced the “lowest point” of his career during an 11-month absence from tennis.

The 31-year-old Briton, who has been out of action with a hip injury since losing in the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-finals, has been drawn to meet Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the first round at Queen’s.

“I’m really looking forward to playing again,” Murray said in his regular BBC Sport column. “While I will be nervous, it will be great to finally step back on the court.

“With sport you play to win, but when you are away from something you love doing for almost a year, you realize you’re playing because you love it.

“I didn’t start playing to win Wimbledon or get to number one in the world. I never believed that was something I was going to do, or something I thought about when I was a kid growing up. I played tennis because I loved it and continued doing that throughout my whole career.”

Murray, who won the Wimbledon title in 2013 and 2016 and the U.S. Open crown in 2012, had an operation on his hip in January.

“When, after six months of not competing, you’re still not good enough to be where you want to be and looking like you’re going to have to have surgery, it’s the lowest point you can get to in your professional career,” he said.

“People might say, `oh, you’ve got it great’ – which I’m aware that we do, and I’m very lucky I get to play tennis for a living. But that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a child, and when you’re not able to do something that you love it’s tough.”

Wimbledon starts on July 2.

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

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Roger Federer defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3) to mark his return from three months off with the Stuttgart Open title on Sunday.

The Swiss great, who is assured of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on Monday, broke at 1-1 in the opening set and held his nerve in the second, where Raonic double-faulted.

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.