Federer takes wild card into Rotterdam, eyes No. 1 ranking

Roger Federer has taken a late wild card into next week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, a 500-point event on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam. It gives Federer, who played only one tournament (Dubai) in between the Australian Open and Indian Wells last season, a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking.

The 36-year-old Swiss is 155 points behind Rafael Nadal, who has maintained the top spot since overtaking Andy Murray this past August. A semifinal performance at a 500-point is worth 180 points, so Federer needs to win just three matches in order to clinch a return trip to No. 1 for the first time since November of 2012.

It would also make Federer the oldest-ever world No. 1–by far. Andre Agassi holds the current record at 33 years and 13 days.

“The tournament is special for me,” Federer said of Rotterdam, where he is 23-6 lifetime in eight appearances with two titles. “I remember playing for the first time in 1999, as it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level. It feels good to join in the celebrations of the 45th edition.”

“After his fantastic result at the Australian Open, it is tremendous news that he will be joining us in Rotterdam,” tournament director Richard Krajicek assured. “It is a crown to the celebration of the history of our tournament.”

Federer captured the Rotterdam title in 2005 (beat his current coach Ivan Ljubicic in the final) and again in his next appearance in 2012 following a six-year absence. He last played there in 2013, losing to Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals.

This year’s field also includes Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nick Kyrgios was also scheduled to play, but he withdrew on Wednesday due to an injury that hampered him last week during Davis Cup competition.

24 Comments on Federer takes wild card into Rotterdam, eyes No. 1 ranking

    • That would indeed be crazy impressive, and would further cement his status as the undisputed, as you like to put it, “Longevity GOAT”. On the flip side, it would extremely concerning for the younger generations that a 37 year old was able to end a season as the best player… If we are concerned about it now, just wait til a 37 year old ends the season at the top. Shit, just the fact that a guy who will be 37 at the end of the season is even in CONTENTION for YE#1 is insane. Maybe it’s just the dawning of a new era of great players dominating until 40? I really hope that that’s the case and that Rafa/Novak/Andy have similar late-career success.

        • Forget about playing a clay court event- he needs to win one other major this season to realistically have a shot at ending #1. Playing a clay event won’t mean anything if he can’t at least win Wimbledon, and maybe a couple Masters titles. Let’s face it, the only reason Fed didn’t end 2017 as #1 last year was because Rafa had such an amazing AND consistent year. Even if a player skips the whole clay season, if someone told me that player won 2 majors, 3 masters titles, 2 500’s, and was runner-up in another masters event, I would have a difficult time believing that that player didn’t finish the season #1. But Rafa had an even better season! My point is that if Fed miraculously managed to mimick 2017 this year, then he would have a chance of finishing #1 just by the other players not having as great of seasons.

          And Fed’s chances of having as good of a season this year as he did last year should statistically be lower than Rafa’s chances of mimicking 2017, even if only because of the age factor alone. So if Rafa sweeps clay AND wins US Open again, then playing a clay court event would be the LEAST of Fed’s concerns haha.

          • Kevin, he has to defend a lot of points at Indian Wells and Miami. I think he can really finish YE no.1 even without winning any more slams, because except Nadal, the next player in the rankings is Cilic with almost 5000 points less. If Nadal and Federer don’t win any more slams this season, Roger has real chances of ending no.1 at the end of 2018 if he can win consistently smaller tournaments and some masters. However, I would prefer him to win Wimbledon and finish 2nd if I were to choose.

          • Different but not huge.

            Year end is obviously more prestigious and only comes along once per year.

            But either way, both require you to earn the most points over 12 months (and Federer can do it by skipping the whole clay season and still be No. 1).

            That’s unheard of regardless of the reasons why – good or bad.

          • Not really, given the way tennis rankings work. Rafa has always placed a higher priority on the YE #1 because he thinks of it as “winning the year”.

            Anyway, I’d be surprised if Roger isn’t YE #1, barring serious injury, of course. Who’s going to win Wimbledon if not him? Murray is supposed to be returning for Wimbledon, Djokovic is a question mark. Nishikori is playing challengers. Raonic? I’m skeptical he can stay healthy long enough. Cilic will not win there. Rafa hasn’t gotten past the round of 16 at Wimbledon in donkey’s years.

            • The only reason I CAN’T say that I wouldn’t be surprised if Federer is YE #1 is because last season, after he won Wimbledon, I said I WOULD be surprised if Fed didn’t end the year as #1, just because he had won 2 majors and 2 masters, it was only half way through the season, and Fed traditionally plays well in the 2nd half of the season. But I was obviously wrong, as Rafa won the US Open and Beijing and made the Shanghai final, and that was enough to ultimately put him over the top, even though he ended up not really playing at all post-Shanghai.

              And in all honesty, I have a hard time seeing Rafa not repeat last year’s clay season this year IF he is healthy. To me, Rafa looked really freakin’ good in AO, but he got hurt and came up against a really tough opponent in Cilic. Assuming Rafa is back to normal soon, which by all accounts his injury was a very minor one, then I still don’t see ANYONE touching him on the dirt… For me, the question will be whether or nor Rafa can win US Open again, AND can Fed have another 2-major season.

              I guess what I’m saying, Ramara, is that I don’t see Fed ending the season #1 as quite as likely as you seem to think it is. Sure, I definitely think that as of this moment, Fed has the best chance of anyone of YE#1. I just don’t think the chances are THAT high yet, given all the unknowns about Fed and the other top players, and because it’s only February.

  1. Fed obviously has to be favored to make the semis and regain #1, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up faultering as well. Remember what happened last year in his first tournament back after his epic AO? A big-serving guy like Khachanov, on a fast indoor court like Rotterdam, could very well take Fed out of his comfort zone. He could have the post-AO jitters like last year, and guys like Khols, Khachanov, and Stan could very well make him uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that Fed could have even more mental jitters knowing that he has a big opportunity to become the oldest #1 ever…

    On the other hand, maybe his post-AO stumble last year was partially related to the fact that he didn’t really care about a smaller tourney like Dubai? He has certainly played consistently well in the past year when under pressure. I would argue that the only two times when he didn’t play as well under pressure was against Del Po at USO and against Gordon at WTF. His losses at Dubai and Stuttgart were about as pressure-less as it gets haha. And he surely felt pressure to win Montreal in order to help his cause for #1, but he was clearly more hampered by his back than nerves in that final.

    Overall, I’m just trying to say that while I would not be surprised for Fed breeze to the semis and regain #1, I also would not be surprised to see him go out against Khachanov or Stan. Karen has the weapons to shock anyone on any given day, especially in best-of-3. And while Stan has ever beaten Fed off of clay in like a million non-clay matches, we do know that he is capable of beating anyone in the world on any surface besides grass. He has also looked much better this week in Sofia, AND I watched him storm to the title in Rotterdam three years ago. If Fed weren’t possibly facing a guy with serious fast court/indoor weapons, and then likely a 3-time major champion to get to #1, then I would be saying the old Hawks proverb “#NID”. 🙂 But I do have some doubt lingering, even if I’m the only one who has such doubt…

    • Stupid autocorrect again! I don’t know of a top tennis player by the name of “Gordon”… Apparently my phone doesn’t recognize the name GOFFIN. 😛

    • Oh boy. I typed that long comment before I saw that Stan lost in straight sets to a qualifier in Sofia… Now that lingering doubt that I spoke of for Fed to make the semis has decreased a bit. However, there is still SOME doubt lingering. 🙂

      • Any given day, Kevin. Of course Khachanov could beat him; so could Kohlschreiber or Stan. Last year’s loss to Donskoy shows that anything can happen, even on Fed’s preferred fast surface. In that match Roger held match points but I think just took his foot off the gas.

        No doubt that nerves will be in play, since unlike last year in Dubai, Fed is clearly playing this tourney to gain #1. How well he handles them is the main question, along with whether someone like Khachanov or Stan brings their A+ game on the day.

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