Federer cruises at Rotterdam in quest for ATP No. 1

Roger Federer is closing in on another history-making achievement: becoming the oldest man ever to be ranked No. 1 in professional tennis.

In his first match since winning the Australian Open for the sixth time last month, the world's No. 2-ranked player cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

In winning his first-round match in a mere 47 minutes over Bemelmans (ranked No. 116), the Swiss star moved just two wins from surpassing longtime rival Rafael Nadal atop the ATP rankings at age 36. If the 20-time Grand Slam champion reaches the semifinals at the indoor tournament, he would surpass Andre Agassi (33 years, 133 days old) as the oldest man ever to be ranked No. 1.

Federer was on his game from the beginning and did not let up, giving up only four points on his serve in the first set while breaking his overmatched opponent four times.

"(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."

The top-seeded Federer will play his second-round match against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, a player who has never beaten Federer in 12 career tries.

The major upset victim of the day was third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, who fell in straight sets to Italian Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-3 in second-round action.

For the 33-year-old Seppi, the win comes on the heels of a strong run to the Round of 16 in Melbourne last month.

In other second-round matches involving ranked players, No. 4 seed David Goffin of Belgium defeated Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 6-3, and sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic eliminated Serbia's Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-2.

In first-round play, No. 2 seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria beat Japan's Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 7-6 (5), while Andrey Rublev of Russia ousted No. 7 seed Lucas Pouille of France 7-5, 6-4.

Also, Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina downed Romania's Marius Copil 6-4, 6-4; Robin Haase dominated Netherlands countryman Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-2; and French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert advanced after countryman Richard Gasquet retired during the first set of their match.

--Field Level Media

02/14/2018 20:20

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