Federer sets up Coric final

Federer sets up Coric final

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after defeating US' Denis Kudla in the Halle Open semifinal on Saturday. AFP

Roger Federer booked his 12th career final at the ATP Halle grass tournament on Saturday, beating qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6 (7/1), 7-5.

The Swiss needs to win the title on Sunday - it would be his tenth at the event - to remain world number one heading into Wimbledon.

He will face Croatian Borna Coric who advanced when Spanish fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut had to retire after slipping on the grass and injuring himself while trailing 2-3.

Federer has beaten Coric in both of their previous matches, the latest an Indian Wells semifinal in March.

Federer's win was his 20th in a row on grass, dating to June 2017.

Federer needed just under 90 minutes to get the job done and hold off the 109th-ranked Kudla, who had not lost a set going into the semifinal.

Federer is back in a familiar spot in Halle, which models its Centre court after its namesake at the All England club, as he works to fine-tune with a Wimbledon title defence starting a week from Monday.

The 36-year-old has reached the final four in each of his last 14 Halle appearances.

Taming Kulda was no easy task, with Federer losing a break after taking an early 2-0 lead.

The first set went into a tiebreaker where the 20-time Grand Slam winner was able to step his game up a gear, racing to 6-0 in the decider and taking it two points later with his seventh ace.

The top-seeded Swiss kept the pressure on Kudla in the second, with the qualifier saving break points before Federer salvaged three of his own to square the set at four games apiece, sealing his effort with an ace, one of his dozen in the match.

Federer gained the crucial service break for a 6-5 lead as Kudla returned long, and the Swiss closed out the victory a game later on the first of two match points.

Federer skipped the clay campaign to concentrate on the grass, and after consecutive tournaments on the lawns - he won the Stuttgart title last week - plans a light week of training and rest in London ahead of Wimbledon.