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Roger Federer Flies Through Rotterdam Opener • Two Wins Away From ATP World Tour Top Spot

Roger Federer (R) speaks during a press conference on the first day of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 12 February 2018. EPA-EFE/KOEN SUYK

 

 

Federer flies through round one in Rotterdam, two wins away from top ranking

 

by Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer is two wins away from clinching a return trip to the No. 1 ranking next week, as he took care of Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 6-2 in a lightning-quick 49 minutes during first-round action at the 2018 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday. Federer, who must reach only the semifinals in order to surpass Rafael Nadal and become the oldest-ever world No. 1, struck six aces without double-faulting and dropped a mere four points in eight service games.

 

The 36-year-old, who would be the oldest-ever player in ATP Tour history to be ranked at the top, broke Bemelmans four times in 10 chances. He is now 24-6 lifetime in Rotterdam and seeking his third title.

 

“(It was) very surprising how good things went today,” Federer said. “I think the key was to start off well and put Ruben under pressure right away and make him feel like he had to do something special.”

 

Next up for the top-seeded Swiss on Thursday is a 13th career showdown against Philipp Kohlschreiber. Federer is sweeping the head-to-head series 12-0, including 2-0 against Kohlschreiber indoors, 7-0 on hard courts overall, and 27-3 in total sets. They have squared off only once since 2015, with the Swiss coasting 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in the fourth round of the 2017 U.S. Open.

 

Nothing suggests Kohlschreiber will suddenly turn the tide. The 34-year-old German has slumped to No. 36 in the rankings and he is just 1-3 for his 2018 campaign. Kohlschreiber picked up a much-needed win on on Tuesday, when he mounted a major comeback to beat Karen Khachanov 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5).

 

“It’s a different match, changing from lefty to righty,” Federer noted. “I just hope I can play a good match. It is a sprint to the finish. The beginning (against Kohlschreiber) will be crucial. You don’t want to fall behind; you want to stay focused all the way. Any lapses could mean that you get in trouble. But I enjoy playing against Philipp. I played really good against him at the U.S. Open so I hope I can keep that up tomorrow night.”

 

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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