Federer dubs himself the "world champion" of practice

Tommy Haas talks about making his final appearance at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Daniel Kopatsch  Mercedes Cup

Federer has not been seen on a tennis court since April 2 when he announced after winning the Miami Open that he would be skipping most of the clay-court season and would only play the French Open in order to focus on winning an eighth Wimbledon title.

Taking into account that he received a first-round bye, the defeat marks the first time Federer has fallen in his opening match at a grass tournament since Wimbledon in 2002.

The failure represents just the fifth loss of the season for the icon who sits at No. 5 in the world. Having scheduled two warm-up events prior to Wimbledon, Federer went for a first stop in Stuttgart at Mercedes Cup. The previous one was back in 2012 in the finals of Halle tournament, which is also played on grass turf.

"Federer grabbed an early break as his attacking topspin backhand, which had served him so well earlier this year, was again on display. So I'm going to be playing a regular schedule for the second part of the season. and the beginning is at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart", ATP's official website quoted Federer as saying.

Haas is a better player than his current ranking suggests, but Federer was expected to win with little fuss.

"I've had enough breaks". The Swiss also leads the German in their head-to head-record, winning 13 out of the 16 matches they have played.

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"Obviously Rafa is in great position to finish World No. 1", Federer added.

"We have known each other for a very long time", said Haas, who plans to retire at the end of the season.

The ATP World Tour Finals, which features the world's top eight singles players and top eight doubles pairs, will be held at London's O2 Arena from November 12-19.

And while his own resurgence this year has taken him aback, Federer insists that Rafael Nadal's return to claycourt dominance was not so unexpected.

With a combined age of 74, it was the oldest match on the tour since 1982 as Haas, on a farewell to the sport in 2017, made his first quarter-final since Rome in 2014. His last title came way back in 2013 when he won Vienna Open. Not that Federer is much younger at 35-years old and playing some of the best tennis of his life.

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