Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings by winning the Rotterdam Open on Sunday, his 97th career title. The 36-year-old, the oldest No.1 in history, thrashed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in a one-sided final.
“What a fantastic week,” the top seed said. “The goal at start of week was to make it to the semi-finals. This is absolutely amazing, I’m really pleased.”
Federer, the record 20-time Grand Slam winner, will reclaim the number one ranking he last held in October 2012 when the new ATP rankings are published on Monday. He has played two tournaments this year and won both — the other being January’s Australian Open.
Federer extended his domination over the player once dubbed “Baby Fed” for the similarities in their playing style, registering his seventh victory in as many meetings.
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Federer’s third title at the Rotterdam tournament comes a day before he officially returns to the top of the rankings, more than five years after he was last world No. 1.
The 36-year-old Swiss earned a return to the top when the rankings are updated Monday, by reaching the semifinals in Rotterdam.
Federer, who has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, said his next target is 100 career titles. He moved a step closer Sunday.
“I saved the best for last,” added Federer, who has a 12-0 record on the season, before jetting home to his family.
“I had a great first match and a great last match. In between it was a battle, it was nerve-wracking getting back to number one. But I was able to manage my nerves and the expectations.
“I was able to handle that pressure, today I played great from the beginning.”
Federer is three years older than American Andre Agassi was when previously holding the record for oldest No.1 back in 2003.
Dimitrov refused to blame any kind of physical or fitness problem for his weak showing although tournament director Richard Krajicek said that the player had been sick.
“Overall, it was a good week, I just came up short today. Anything can happen out there, all credit to Roger. He’s back to number one, played well all week and kept raising the bar,” he said.
Federer will now decide within a few days whether or not to travel to Dubai for the ATP event starting a week from Monday. He has a home and training base in the UAE and has won the hardcourt tournament seven times.
His effort in Rotterdam appeared to take little out of him physically, with his only loss of a set coming in the quarter-final against Robin Haase.