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Roger Federer Faces Strong Field In Rotterdam As He Begins Quest For Number 1 World ATP Ranking

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action during his first round match against Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 16 January 2018. EPA-EFE/JOE CASTRO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer is potentially one week away from becoming the oldest world No. 1 in the history of the ATP Tour. That will become a reality if Federer reaches the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, a 500-point event on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam. The 36-year-old was not expected to play and has not appeared at this tournament since 2013, but he accepted a late wild card earlier this week.

 

Federer is an obvious title favorite, and not just because he is the top seed and reigning Australian Open champion. He also boasts a stellar record in Rotterdam, with 23 wins in 29 total matches and two titles.

 

“The tournament is special for me,” said the Swiss, who will overtake Rafael Nadal at No. 1 in the world if he wins at least three matches this coming week. “I remember playing for the first time in 1999, as it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level. It feels good to join in the celebrations of the 45th edition.”

 

The 45th edition should be a good one, and not just because of Federer’s presence. Rotterdam’s field of 32 players also features Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Lucas Pouille, Gilles Muller, and Andrey Rublev.

 

Federer will kick off his campaign against qualifier Ruben Bemelmans and would then run into either Karen Khachanov or Philipp Kohlschreiber. Potential quarterfinal foes for the 20-time Grand Slam champion–the last players who could stand in his way of the No. 1 ranking–are Wawrinka and Robin Haase. Zverev also finds himself in the top half of the draw, but he has a long way to go before possibly facing Federer in the semifinals. The 20-year-old German has a tough first-round test on Monday against David Ferrer.

 

On the other side of the bracket Goffin and Berdych are on a collision course for the quarters. Goffin, the runner-up in 2017, is coming off a semifinal performance in Montpellier. Meanwhile, Dimitrov’s quarter of the draw includes Montpellier champion Pouille, Sofia finalist Maris Copil, and recent Doha runner-up Rublev.

 

Pouille will be making a quick turnaround following his victory over Richard Gasquet in the Montpellier final on Sunday and he has to go up against Rublev right off the bat.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website,  The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at@Dimonator.

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