WASHINGTON, February 18, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)
Three weeks ago, Roger Federer won his 20th major. On Friday evening, at age 36, he became the oldest World No. 1 in tennis history. On Sunday afternoon, the Swiss maestro chased after his 97th career singles title – and won it very convincingly. Indeed, as a new Nike ad revealed over the weekend, “Federer should be history. But Federer is too busy making it.”
Fully focused and ready, the top-seeded Federer routed World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov, 6-2, 6-2, to capture the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for the third time in his career. Another packed crowd inside the Rotterdam Ahoy arena showered its appreciation upon the new World No. 1, both during the match and afterward as he received the winner’s trophy.
Sunday’s victory marked the 30th time that Federer defeated a Top 5 opponent in the final to earn a tour-level title, and it improved his 2018 win-loss record to 12-0 in tour-level play. The Swiss maestro happily accepted the championship trophy, standing alongside tournament director Richard Krajicek, and he raised it high over his head while beaming a smile that transcended both the arena and a worldwide TV audience.
“What a week it’s been; absolutely amazing,” said Federer, during the trophy presentation on Centre Court. “The goal was to make it to the semis – and I won the tournament. So, of course, I’m incredibly excited and so very happy. … I’m still living the dream.”
After his semifinal win over Andreas Seppi on Saturday, Federer said, “I believe I’m physically and mentally strong enough to handle one more match.” Indeed, he was more than ready for the challenge of facing Dimitrov in the final.
While the 26-year-old Dimitrov was probably due a win after going 0-6 lifetime against Federer, it wasn’t going to happen this time. Federer came out determined from the outset and broke Dimitrov’s serve four times in eight opportunities – twice in each set – and lost just seven points on his serve during the 55-minute final. Meanwhile, Federer did not face any break points and he dominated on his serve by winning 20 of 24 (83 percent) first-serve points, including three aces. He was just as effective with his second serve, too, which yielded an 80 percent (12 of 15) success rate. Federer, who hit 18 winners, outpointed Dimitrov 54-34. It was the Bulgarian’s first ATP final of the year after finishing 2017 ranked No. 3 in the world and winning the Nitto ATP Finals.
— ABN AMRO WTT (@abnamrowtt) 18. Februar 2018
“I was expecting it to be tough today,” said Federer during his post-match press conference. “Grigor is a great player and a great athlete, and he’s been playing super well in recent months. I thought that this wasn’t going to be the result, but he looked to be struggling a bit and I never looked back. I was able to execute my tennis the way I wanted to. I’m very happy.”
For Federer, winning the ATP 500 Rotterdam title capped a most memorable week. He boosted his ATP rankings points total to 10,105, placing him 345 points ahead of Rafael Nadal’s 9,760. Now, Federer is ensured to be ranked No. 1 for at least the next four weeks (from February 19 to March 18).
“It’s definitely one of those weeks I will never forget in my life,” said Federer. “It’s unbelievable to get my 97th title and get back to World No. 1. It’s very special.”
• The No. 3-seeded team of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, both of France, upset the World No. 1 team of Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia, 2-6, 6-2, 10-7, to win the doubles title.
“They played an amazing level in the first set, we were slow to start. They played amazing and then we leveled it up. We played an amazing game in the beginning of the second [set] and then you go forwards into the [Match] Tie-break, it can go everywhere, but this time it was for us. We are really, really happy about the win today,” Herbert told.
“Winning for the first time in Rotterdam with Pierre is something great. We are pretty happy about the week, we played so many good teams, especially finally beating the undefeated team. It is something special in the final,” Mahut added.
• Federer’s two previous Rotterdam titles came in 2005, against his current coach Ivan Ljubicic, and in 2012 over Juan Martin del Potro.
About the author
Michael Dickens is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance journalist who writes and blogs about tennis.