Rotterdam one for Federer's highlight reel

Roger Federer (pictured) claimed his 97th career title by thrashing ailing Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2, and declared it one of the highlights of his career.
Roger Federer (pictured) claimed his 97th career title by thrashing ailing Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2, and declared it one of the highlights of his career.PHOTO: AFP

ROTTERDAM (Netherlands) • As Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings by winning the Rotterdam Open, one of his closest confidants revealed that he had never planned to return to No. 1.

Federer on Sunday claimed his 97th career title by thrashing ailing Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2, and declared it one of the highlights of his career.

The record 20-time Major champion needed to reach the last four to reclaim the No. 1 ranking yesterday. But he went two steps further.

"What a fantastic week," the 36-year-old Swiss said. "It's unbelievable to be No. 1 again after all these (six) years - this is one of the best weeks of my life."

His long-time coach Severin Luthi told Swiss newspaper Blick that Federer, who last held the top spot in October 2012, did not plot his ascent to the summit.

"I always believed that he could win big tournaments. But to be the No. 1, you have to win much and constantly, which becomes even tougher when you are older," said Luthi.

"That's why we didn't have a general plan for the No. 1."

Federer is guaranteed to remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings through to March 18, with the fight for top spot between him and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal set to resume at the BNP Paribas Open next month.

Federer has played two tournaments this year and won both - the other being the Australian Open which he won for the sixth time.

"I saved the best for last," added Federer, who has a 12-0 record this season.

"In between, it was nerve-wracking getting back to No. 1. I was able to handle that pressure."

His only loss of a set in the tournament came in the quarter-final against Dutchman Robin Haase.

He will now decide whether to travel to Dubai for the ATP event starting next Monday. He has a training base there and has won the hardcourt event seven times.

"Ninety-seven is not 100 yet," he said of chasing down American Jimmy Connors's record of 109 titles. "You've got to stay healthy, things can evaporate quickly."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Rotterdam one for Federer's highlight reel'. Print Edition | Subscribe