In just over two weeks since capturing an astonishing 20th Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, Roger Federer is set to return to tennis court earlier than expected. The Swiss legend accepted a wildcard at next week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis tournament, which will feature a formidable-looking line-up headlined by four top ten players and will commemorate its 45th edition since the tournament’s inception. Federer will play in Rotterdam for the first time since a quarterfinal defeat to Julien Benneteau in 2013.
“The tournament is special for me,” Federer said in statement on tournament’s website.
“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.”
Richard Krajicek, former Wimbledon Champion and current Rotterdam tournament director said,’’ After his fantastic result at the Australian Open, it is tremendous news that he will be joining us in Rotterdam.’’
Krajicek added, “It is a crown to the celebration of the history of our tournament.’’
Federer’s eyebrow-raising decision to participate at the event in the Netherlands will have significant repercussions at the summit of men’s tennis. He currently trails Rafael Nadal who holds top spot by a mere 155 points. The ATP 500 tour events allocate 180 points to semifinalists, and if Federer were to reach the semifinals at the event (which he has previously won on two occasions–in 2005 and 2012 respectively), then he will continue to chalk more tennis history. Federer, 36, will become the oldest World #1 ever, beating Andre Agassi, who holds the current record at the age of 33. He will also extend his unmatched record of 302 weeks at #1 even further. Federer could be set to return to World #1 for the first time since November 4th, 2012.
Nadal, 31, is scheduled to appear at the Mexican Open, which commences on 26th February. While the Spaniard will try and hold his side of the bargain, it is entirely not in his racket to hold top spot. That, along with the Nadal’s recuperation from hip injury, means all Federer has to do is to reach the semifinals in Rotterdam.
Federer will face a qualifier in round one on Wednesday evening, and he is projected to meet fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka has enjoyed a productive week in Bulgaria, where he reached the semifinals at the Sofia Open as he steps his bid to achieve full fitness. If the pair were to meet, it would be an emotional rollercoaster match with World #1 on the line.