On Friday, Roger Federer secured his return to No. 1 with a quarterfinal victory over Robin Haase in Rotterdam, saying that “maybe this one means the most to me.”
The feat breaks several records. On Monday, the 36-year-old will become the sport’s oldest-ever ATP No. 1, breaking Andre Agassi’s record by more than three years. It will also be the longest span between the first and most recent appearance at No. 1 in ATP history at 14 years, 7 days, breaking current No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s record of nine years and 184 days. It is also the longest span between appearances at No. 1 (5 years and 7 days since Federer’s previous hold on No. 1).
In addition, Federer gets to extend his record of 302 total weeks at No. 1.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was honored with a presentation on court in Rotterdam.
“I think reaching No. 1 is one of, if not, the ultimate achievement in our sport. Sometimes in the beginning you just reach it all of a sudden, because you’re just playing so great,” he said. “Then sometimes you try to fight it back, and you wrestle it away from someone who also deserves to be there.
“When you’re older, you sometimes feel you have to put, maybe, double the work, so maybe this one means the most to me.”
Federer first reached No. 1 in 2004 after winning his second Grand Slam at the Australian Open. He has also returned to No. 1 two other times (in 2009 and 2012).
Federer looked near tears after the win on Friday, adding: “It’s an absolute dream come true. I can’t believe it.”
Recapturing the top ranking caps Federer’s remarkable comeback from knee surgery in 2016. Ranked No. 17 at the start of 2017, Federer has since won three Grand Slams and a total of eight titles. He was twice within reach of No. 1 in 2017, but injured his back in Montreal and fell in the semifinals of the ATP Tour Finals.
But his victory at last month’s Australian Open, along with Nadal’s quarterfinal exit, allowed the Swiss another shot at the top spot, prompting him to enter this week’s event at Rotterdam.
He first played Rotterdam as a 17-year-old, receiving a qualifying wildcard in 1999, and also accepted a wildcard this week, having become the sport’s biggest name.
“I did need this one [wildcard], too,” he joked.
Federer leads Nadal by just 25 points in the rankings, but can extend that further by winning more rounds in Rotterdam. He plays Andreas Seppi in the semifinals on Saturday.
This Week on Tennis Channel Plus 2/19
ATP Rio (Feb. 19-22)
– Watch all of The Rio Open with extended coverage featuring three additional courts only available on Tennis Channel Plus
– The Rio Open begins on Tennis Channel Plus on February 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET with extended court coverage
ATP Marseille (Feb. 20-25)
-Don’t miss Stan Wawrinka, Davis Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga compete at The Open 13 live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning February 20 at 1 p.m. ET
SUBSCRIBE TO TENNIS CHANNEL PLUS at tennischannel.com/subscribe