Federer Breezes To Rotterdam Crown
Roger Federer will surely never forget his week in Rotterdam. Two days after securing a return to the top spot in the ATP Rankings, the Swiss notched his 97th tour-level trophy on the indoor hard courts of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
The newly minted World No. 1 breezed to the title under the lights at the Ahoy Rotterdam, needing just 55 minutes to dismiss Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2. The Bulgarian was far from his best on Sunday afternoon and Federer refused to relinquish his grip after grabbing an early lead. Putting Dimitrov under heavy pressure throughout the championship clash, he fired 15 winners and converted four of eight break chances.
Federer, who will return to the summit of the ATP Rankings for the first time in more than five years on Monday, added a record third Rotterdam title to his glittering resume. He previously triumphed in 2005, defeating his current coach Ivan Ljubicic, and in 2012 with victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
"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.
"I was expecting it to be tough today. 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."
Open Era Title Leaders
With King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in attendance, it was Dimitrov who burst out the gates behind a blistering start. The World No. 5 sent an early message across the net with a stunning backhand winner and running cross-court forehand in the opening game. He would claim seven of the first eight winners and it looked to be a tight affair in the Dutch city.
But a netted backhand drew first blood for Federer in the fifth game and he would not look back. The Swiss did not yield an inch from the baseline and a rattled Dimitrov saw a total of 13 unforced errors come off his racquet in the first set. And an immediate break to open the second would prove decisive. Federer crossed the finish in just under an hour, marking the second straight year he has streaked to a title in less than 60 minutes. He defeated Alexander Zverev in 53 minutes in Halle last year.
"I played a great first match and a great last match," Federer added. "In between it was a battle and nerve-wracking, getting back to World No. 1 and managing my expectations and my nerves as well. I was able to handle the pressure and today I played great from the beginning. I pushed forward and I'm very proud that I could win here in Rotterdam."
Federer has carried the momentum from a dominant finish to 2017 into the new season, opening his campaign with a ruthless 12-0 start. Since falling to Del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals, he has won 25 of 26 matches, with his only blemish coming in the semis of the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Goffin).
Federer now owns a 7-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Dimitrov and has claimed encounters in each of the past six years. He has dropped just two sets in total in that span. The Swiss, who is assured of staying at No. 1 going into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, regardless of Rafael Nadal's result in Acapulco, earns 500 ATP Rankings points. He also takes home €401,580 in prize money.
Despite falling in the championship, Dimitrov celebrates a 15th final appearance on the ATP World Tour. He streaked to the final without dropping a set, earning impressive wins over in-form opponents Yuichi Sugita, Filip Krajinovic and Andrey Rublev. The second seed was eyeing his ninth career crown. He takes home €196,875 in prize money and 300 ATP Rankings points.
"It was a great week, but I just came up short today," said Dimitrov. "Anything can happen, but all credit to Roger. He deserves to win the tournament and played unbelievable tennis the whole week. He raised the bar. I just want to take the positives from the week. My goal was to come out here and play well with each match, but I just came up short today. You do the best you can and play with whatever you have. I was following my game to the capacity I could and that was the result."
Did You Know?
With his victory in the Rotterdam final, Federer clinched a record 20th ATP World Tour 500 level title. He was previously tied with Nadal with 19 crowns.