ROTTERDAM: Roger Federer became the oldest world number one on Friday when the 20-time Grand Slam title winner reached the semi-finals of the RotterdamOpen.
The 36-year-old Swiss overcame an early setback to beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 and will replace old rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings.
“What an amazing run it’s been, to be number one again means a lot to me,” Federer said.
“This is incredibly special, I’m so happy. I didn’t really think I could get back to number one, this is a significant moment in my career.”
Federer surpasses Andre Agassi, who held the top spot aged 33 years and 131 days in 2003, as the oldest man to claim the world number one spot.
It is Federer’s first time back at the summit since October 2012 having first claimed the top position in February 2004.
“Reaching number one is the ultimate achievement in tennis. When you’re older you have to work double the amount, you have to wrestle it back from someone who’s also worked hard to get there. It’s a dream come true,” added an emotional Federer.
“It’s been an amazing journey and to clinch it here, where I got my first wildcard in 1998, means so much.” Agassi was amongst the first to congratulate Federer.
“36 years 195 days… @rogerfederer continues to raise the bar in our sport. Congratulations on yet another remarkable achievement!!,” tweeted the American.
Federer had talked on Thursday of his desire to retake the world number one spot but doubted it would ever happen after he underwent knee surgery last year.
“I’ve struggled to try and get there. I had to win a lot of matches last year,” said Federer, who was as low as 17 in the world in January 2017 before he returned to form with the Australian Open title. —AP