Roger Federer moved a step closer to reclaiming the top spot in men’s tennis when he beat Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans 6-1 6-2 in the Rotterdam Open yesterday.
The 36-year-old Swiss master needs only to reach the semi-finals at the ABN Amro tennis event to overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the ATP rankings and become world number one for the first time since November 2012.
He captured the first set from the 116th-ranked Bemelmans in only 19 minutes, having won the first five games with a flurry of fine shot-making, picking up where he left off in Melbourne last month where he won the first grand slam of the year.
The imperious Federer had Bemelmans scampering all over the court to retrieve the ball but it always looked a hopeless task.
The Belgian pulled the score back to 3-2 in the second set but that was the last game he managed and Federer finished the job in 46 minutes.
Federer would surpass American Andre Agassi as the oldest world number one if he wins his next two matches in Rotterdam and he would also set another record of the longest gap (five years and 106 days) between periods as number one.
He already holds the record for most weeks spent at number one, having topped the rankings for a combined 302 weeks.
Earlier, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, the duo who faced off in last year’s season-ending ATP Finals, both advanced with straight-sets wins.
Second seed Dimitrov, who beat Belgian fourth seed Goffin in the London final last November, had to fight back in the second set to defeat Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in their first-round encounter.
Goffin made light work of veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, cruising through 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.
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