Federer To Return To No. 1

Swiss star ends Nadal's 26-week stint in top spot

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

By overtaking Spaniard Rafael Nadal at No. 1 on Monday, Federer will break a number of ATP Rankings records – the longest period between stints at No. 1, the oldest player to attain top spot and the longest duration between first and last days at the summit of men’s professional tennis.

Richard Krajicek, the Rotterdam Tournament Director, presented Federer with a special award in an on-court ceremony. "What an amazing run it’s been and a journey it’s been for me throughout, so to clinch World No. 1 again this following Monday here in Rotterdam really means a lot to me, so thank you very much, everybody," Federer told the crowd.

"I think reaching No. 1 is one of, if not the ultimate achievement in our sport. So sometimes at the beginning you just all of a sudden get there just because you’re playing so well. Later you sometimes try to fight it back and you wrestle it back from somebody else who deserved to be there. And when you’re older, you know you feel like you have to put maybe sometimes double the work in. So this one maybe means the most to me [of any achievement] throughout my career, getting to No. 1 and enjoying it right here at 36, almost 37 years old. [It] is an absolute dream come true, I can’t believe it."

His third straight victory over Haase means that the Swiss superstar has completed a dramatic return from No. 17 in January 2017, following a six-month lay-off due to a knee injury. Since returning, Federer has compiled a 63-5 match record, including titles at three of the past five Grand Slam championships, three ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and two other tournaments.

“It’s a little bit surreal,” said Federer, the 2005 and 2012 Rotterdam champion, during his press conference. “The first time I got back to No. 1 was in 2004, a long, long time ago. It was more than five years since I was last No. 1. It was particularly nice today as I had to go and get it, win a match. Back in 2012, I won Wimbledon and a week later, when I was on holiday, I found out that I was No. 1."

Having saved three break points at 1-1, Haase appeared not to have read the script when the World No. 42 broke Federer for a 5-4 lead, then calmly closed out the 35-minute opener. Federer refocused and signaled his aggressive intent by winning four first-serve points in his opening service game of the second set, which lasted just 19 minutes. From a 3-1 lead in the second set, Federer won nine of the next 10 games to wrap up the match in 80 minutes.

“I thought I was pretty calm," said Federer. "I woke up, I had a good sleep and then watched the Winter Olympics for three-four hours, before I headed on-site. I had a normal warm-up and had a good routine. I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to play. I was backing myself and I was confident. A lot of people have asked me today how I handle all of the pressure. But I think it helps all of the big matches I’ve played over the years.

“Losing the first set, definitely got my head spinning a little bit. It reminded me that I had to go and get the victory tonight. It wasn’t going to be handed to me. I had to change my plan and started to play more aggressively.

“I will enjoy the moment. I’ve already had a glass of [Moët & Chandon] champagne and I’ll have another one later on. I’ll play late again tomorrow, so I can have a good sleep and enjoy myself. It’s incredibly special and I’m so happy. Severin [Luthi] also flew in tonight, so it was an extra surprise too.”

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Federer has ensured top spot for the first time since 4 November 2012, five years and 106 days ago – the longest period of time between stints at World No. 1. At 36 years of age, Federer is also the oldest player to become No. 1, eclipsing the record held by American Andre Agassi, who last held the top spot aged 33 on 7 September 2003.

LONGEST GAP BETWEEN STINTS AT NO. 1

Player Lost No. 1 Regained No. 1 Time In Between
Roger Federer (SUI) 4 November 2012 19 February 2018 5 years, 106 days
Andre Agassi (USA) 12 February 1996 5 July 1999 3 years, 142 days
Jimmy Connors (USA) 9 July 1979 13 September 1982 3 years, 65 days
Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6 July 2014 21 August 2017 3 years, 45 days
Andre Agassi (USA) 11 September 2000 28 April 2003 2 years, 228 days

OLDEST WORLD NO. 1

Player Birthdate Most Recent Date At No. 1 Age
Roger Federer (SUI) 8 August 1981 19 February 2018 36
Andre Agassi (USA) 29 April 1970 7 September 2003 33
Rafael Nadal (ESP) 3 June 1986 18 February 2018 31
Jimmy Connors (USA) 2 September 1952 3 July 1983 30
Ivan Lendl (CZE/USA) 7 March 1960 12 August 1990 30

Federer first became No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 2 February 2004 – a record 14 years and 17 days ago – for a total of 237 straight weeks until 17 August 2008. He then returned to the top spot on two further occasions between 6 July 2009 and 6 June 2010 (48 weeks) and from 9 July 2012 to 4 November 2012 (17 weeks).

FIRST AND LAST DAY AT NO. 1

Player Debut At No. 1 Most Recent Date At No. 1 Time In Between
Roger Federer (SUI) 2 February 2004 19 February 2018 14 years, 17 days
Rafael Nadal (ESP) 18 August 2008 18 February 2018 9 years, 184 days
Jimmy Connors (USA) 29 July 1974 3 July 1983 8 years, 339 days
Andre Agassi (USA) 10 April 1995 7 September 2003 8 years, 150 days
Pete Sampras (USA) 12 April 1993 19 November 2000 7 years, 221 days

Nadal, his great rival, started his fourth stint at No. 1 on 21 August 2017 – 26 weeks ago – and has been the sport’s leader for 167 weeks in total. Federer, with a 10-0 record in 2018, will now add to his record of 302 weeks at No. 1 when the latest ATP Rankings are published on Monday.

Statistical assistance from Joshua Rey