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Roger Federer into Stuttgart semi-finals, closes on No.1 spot

Stuttgart: Roger Federer edged closer to displacing Rafael Nadal at the top of the world rankings as he hammered Guido Pella 6-4, 6-4 on Friday at the Stuttgart Cup.

The Swiss top seed needs to win one more match against either Australian fourth seed Nick Kyrgios or 2017 finalist Feliciano Lopez to return to the No. 1 spot for the second time this season.

The quarter-final victory in 55 minutes, which ended on a backhand, featured two breaks of serve for the Swiss, who executed well in his second match in three months after skipping the clay season and last playing in March.

Federer is aiming for a first title in Stuttgart after losing in the 2016 semis to Dominic Thiem and going out in an opening match a year ago to longtime friend Tommy Haas.

The 36-year-old won his 19th match from 21 played this season as his Wimbledon buildup continues on track.

At the All England club next month, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking a ninth title at the grass-court major.

At the bottom of the draw, Milos Raonic reached his second semi-final of the season to set up a clash with defending champion Lucas Pouille.

Raonic used his big-serving game to dominate a pair of tiebreakers in a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/1) defeat of Tomas Berdych.

"I got fortunate in the tiebreakers," the 27-year-old Canadian seventh seed said after reaching his first semi-final since Indian Wells last March.

"He gave me some points at the start of both tie-breaks and I was able to keep myself disciplined on serve to win them.

"I like this court, the speed is good for me, there are no bad bounces and it's holding up well," he said of the lawns first curated under the supervision of Wimbledon groundsmen.

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