Rotterdam R1 preview and prediction: Federer vs. Bemelmans

Roger Federer’s bid to become the oldest world No. 1 in ATP Tour history at the end of this week will begin on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Federer and Ruben Bemelmans will kick off the night session with their first-ever head-to-head showdown.

The 36-year-old maintained his point total in the ATP rankings by successfully defending his title at the Australian Open last month. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, fell in the quarterfinals (retired in the fifth set against Marin Cilic) after finishing runner-up to Federer in 2017. Thus the gap dwindled to just 155 points, which means the Swiss needs only a semifinal performance (180 points) at the 500-point tournament in Rotterdam in order to reclaim the top spot next Monday.

Federer has not been No. 1 since November of 2012. If the 20-time major champion accomplishes the feat, he will surpass Andre Agassi (33 years old) as the oldest-ever top-ranked player on the ATP Tour.

“After the Australian Open was over, I thought I’d love to play Rotterdam and give it a go,” Federer explained. “Our team is very excited, that I‘m here and that I will give it a go. You have to do it, not because it’s the right thing to do, but you have to be here with all your heart and really go for it. (I’ll) try my very best. Having the option of getting to No. 1 is highly motivating and very exciting to say the least.”

This week’s No. 1 seed is 23-6 lifetime in eight previous Rotterdam efforts. He captured the title in 2005 (beat his current coach, Ivan Ljubicic, in the the final) and again in his next appearance in 2012 following a six-year absence. Federer last played the ABN AMRO in 2013, falling to Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals.

“The tournament is special for me,” he assured. “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.”

Bemelmans, meanwhile, earned his spot in this matchup thanks to a successful qualification run that saw him defeat Denis Istomin and Tim Van Rijthoven in straight sets. The 116th-ranked Belgian is a decent 3-3 at the ATP level this season with a second-round Australian Open performance as a qualifier, an impressive Davis Cup victory over Marton Fucsovics, and a second-round finish last week on the indoor hard courts of Montpellier.

Of course, nothing suggests Bemelmans is capable of producing the kind of tennis that will trouble a red-hot (and soon-to-be world No. 1?) Federer.

Pick: Federer in 2 losing 5-7 games

24 Comments on Rotterdam R1 preview and prediction: Federer vs. Bemelmans

  1. Odds are not as long on this match as I would have thought. Fed has never played RB, and that gives him a fighting chance. He’s the same ranking as Donskoy last year (116). Plus, my nephew’s name is Ruben.

    Bemelmans in 3!

  2. More seriously: With two upsets already, Fed now has to beat Bemelmans, Kohlschreiber, and (probably) Robin Haase to attain #1 (if not Haase then another qualifier).

    I think there will be a new world #1 come next week.

    • Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Kyrgios, Nishikori, Raonic just to name a few.

      Just a bunch of Blake, Roddick, Hewitt wanna bees left.

      Nothing new since 2003.

      • All the above players except Djoko has no chance against Fed, so whether they are there or not hardly matters. As Fed might anyway win against them so the weak era argument can still persists.
        The only way weak era to disappear is when Fed retires and Nadal starts winning then I think it might become the strongest era in the history of tennis.

        • The strong eras are from start of clay season in 2008 till olympics, begin of 2009 until French open 2009, from 2010 clay season till end of the season(longest strong era), clay season of 2012 and from 2013 start of clay season till US open and after that strong era has never reappeared. Only a glimpse of strong era was seen during clay season of 2017 but immediately after that it disappeared

        • 2ndBestPlayerAtBest, not just “there” but for the last 52 weeks the Big Four have been anything but their best (other than juicy Roger).


        • BestPlayer- are you being sarcastic? If a weak era has already started, how would removing 1 of the only 2 current dominant players from the tour make it any less weak?? Right now we at least have 2 guys fighting for the #1 ranking. If Federer retires, it will be 2004 all over again where we will have ONE guy destroying everyone, except it would be Rafa instead of Fed. The past 52 weeks has been more like 2005, where we at least had TWO guys destroying everyone haha.

          So again, if Federer retired and it were only Rafa dominating the field, just like it was in 2004 with Federer, how would that make this “era” “stronger”?? “…the strongest era EVER”??? I mean, am I just completely naive and I just missed the sarcasm? Please help me out here…

          • Yes, Kevin, BP was being sarcastic. It’s really all the “weak-era” claim deserves, but see the Federer page for serious arguments (on one side) for why the concept is hopelessly ill-defined -as well as well as a few [Deleted For Profanity] messages for the other side that finds actual argument too difficult.

          • Kevin – it was in response to Hawkeye’s repeated dig at Fed. Last year when Fed won AO and Wimbledon, I would have missed the count of weak era argument from Hawkeye but not a single weak era argument were there when Rafa won FO and US. So a little sarcasm 😀

            • 2ndBestPlayer revisionism and confirmatory bias is hilarious.

              I already said that Rafa finished no. 1 while not near his best last year and that in any other year since 2008, it wouldn’t have been good enough.

              But that’s to be expected from the school of Joey Needles so called debate.

              The Weak Era definition is clearly defined and began well before 2005.

              Jeff Sackmann’s ELO also backs up The Weak Era quite effectively which is what got the fanboy so hot and bothered.

              Too funny.

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