Raonic powers past Pouille into Stuttgart final

Canada's Milos Raonic eliminated Lucas Pouille to reach the final of the the Stuttgart Cup.

Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) – Milos Raonic hammered 19 aces on Saturday to eliminate defending champion Lucas Pouille 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) and reach the final at the Stuttgart Cup.

The Canadian seventh seed will play for the title against either Roger Federer or Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s showdown at the grass-court event.

Federer will return to No.1 in the rankings if he beats Australian Kyrgios in the second semifinal later on Saturday.

Raonic, plagued by injury over the past few seasons, is making his Stuttgart debut.

The Canadian seventh seed feels his game is starting to fire again.

“I have nothing to complain about, everything is going positive,” he said. “I’m playing better with each match, I’m there at the important moments in the games, that’s an important thing.”

The 35th-ranked Raonic beat the second-seeded Pouille for the third time without a loss in the series and said he is not allowing any thoughts of Queen’s club next week or Wimbledon enter his mind.

“I’m just concentrating on the job to hand, trying to do it well. If I can play well, I’ll be having my chances on the grass.”

The Canadian saved the lone break point he faced while breaking Pouille twice.

“Reaching the final is an important step for me,” he said. “There is a big difference between playing a semi and a final.

“I’m making positive progress, I’m happy with it and hope to keep it up tomorrow.”

Raonic played his last final in May, 2017, losing in Istanbul to Marin Cilic. His last grass final came at 2016 Wimbledon in a loss to Andy Murray.