Federer closes in on incredible feat after Stuttgart title

Roger Federer has celebrated returning to the top of the world rankings by defeating Milos Raonic in the final of the Stuttgart Open and lifting the 98th Tour-level title of his garlanded career.

The 36-year-old, who by reaching the final had already guaranteed his return to world No.1, supplanting Rafael Nadal when the new rankings are released on Monday, continued his domination over the Canadian with a 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory.

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

"It's a great comeback for me," said Federer, who was playing his first tournament after an 11-week break, having sidestepped the entire clay-court season.

"I'm really happy. I thought it was a good final from my side. I think I played very well throughout the tournament, actually, having not played for a while.

"Maybe I was a little bit better on the bigger points. Of course I'm so happy to have won here, finally, in Stuttgart."

Federer's win in Stuttgart sealed a 98th career title for the Swiss ace. Pic: Getty

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 tiebreak after no breaks in the second set, a double fault from Raonic paved the way for Federer to claim his 18th career title on grass.

On Monday, Federer will begin a record-extending 310th week at the top of the rankings before seeking to defend his Halle grass-court crown.

He will need to triumph once again at his favourite pre-Wimbledon haunt in Germany this week if he is to prevent Nadal returning to No.1 in their continuing see-saw battle.

If he manages to do so, Federer will then seek a landmark 100th career title at Wimbledon where he will also be attempting to extend his record of men's singles crowns to nine.