Federer becomes oldest ATP world number one
Roger Federer v Robin Haase 4-6 6-1 6-1

Federer becomes oldest ATP world number one

Switzerland's Roger Federer returned to the top of the ATP World rankings for the first time since 2012 after beating Dutchman Robin Haase to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO tournament in Rotterdam on Friday.

Fresh from winning his 20th grand slam title in Melbourne this month, Federer took a wildcard into the ABN AMRO World Tennis event with his eyes fixed on a return to number one for the first time since November 2012.

Needing to reach the last four to overtake great rival Rafael Nadal, Federer showed some early nerves in his quarter-final clash in the port city's Ahoy Arena, dropping serve in the ninth game on his way to conceding the first set.

But the 36-year-old Swiss, as he usually does, moved through the gears to punish a physically struggling Haase.

A demoralised Haase double-faulted on match point and after an initially restrained celebration Federer sat on his chair and looked close to tears as his feat sank in -- as did some of the Swiss fans leading the rapturous applause.

"Reaching number one is one of, if not the ultimate achievement in our sport," Federer said on court after being handed a huge No.1 shaped plaque by Dutch former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, the tournament director.

"Sometimes at the beginning you just kind of get there because you played so well, but later you have to fight for it and have to wrestle it back from someone who deserves to be there. When you are older you maybe have to put double the work in. This maybe means the most to me in my career."

Federer, whose glittering career has re-ignited since taking six months off in 2016, has won three of the last five grand slams having gone five years without one.

One of the greatest ever late-career runs by any sportsman or woman means he surpasses Andre Agassi who was the previous oldest man to top the ATP rankings.

American Agassi was 33 when he scaled the summit in 2003. He was one of the first to congratulate Federer.

"Roger Federer continues to raise the bar in our sport. Congratulations on yet another remarkable achievement!!" Agassi said on Twitter.

Federer also set another record with the more than five-year gap between his previous and most recent stints as world number one being the longest since ATP rankings began in 1973.

Incredibly Federer first reached number one in 2004, as a 22-year-old, and having now returned there 14 years later playing some of the best tennis of his career, he looks capable of another lengthy stretch on the throne.

He already holds the record of 302 weeks ranked number one. Federer will face either Italian Andrea Seppi or young Russian Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final as he closes in on a 97th career title.

Related news

Roger Federer extends Western & Southern Open unbeaten streak to 11 matches

Roger Federer extends Western & Southern Open unbeaten streak to 11 matches

Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Peter Gojowczyk, and Williams was eliminated by eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss.

Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati second round

Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati second round

Serena Williams was eliminated from the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, falling to eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss.

Novak Djokovic makes winning start in Cincinnati as Murray falls in opener

Novak Djokovic makes winning start in Cincinnati as Murray falls in opener

Novak Djokovic overcame home favourite Steve Johnson, Stan Wawrinka beat Diego Schwartzman and Andy Murray was eliminated in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati

Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati

Andy Murray lost to Lucas Pouille 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday, clearing another obstacle for Roger Federer in this US Open tune-up.

Serena Williams bounces back with straight-set win at Western & Southern Open

Serena Williams bounces back with straight-set win at Western & Southern Open

Serena Williams bounced back from the most lopsided loss of her career, cruising past Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2 at the Western & Southern Open on Monday.

After Rogers Cup crown, Rafael Nadal pulls out of Cincy tournament to rest

After Rogers Cup crown, Rafael Nadal pulls out of Cincy tournament to rest

Rafael Nadal dropped out of the Western & Southern Open on Sunday night, scuttling a reunion of the "Big Four."

Rafael Nadal topples birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto final

Rafael Nadal topples birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto final

Rafael Nadal ended the red-hot run of Greek upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-2 7-6(4) win on Sunday that gave the Spanish top seed his fourth Rogers Cup championship.

Simona Halep beats Sloane Stephens in Montreal in repeat of French Open win

Simona Halep beats Sloane Stephens in Montreal in repeat of French Open win

World number one Simona Halep turned back American Sloane Stephens 7-6(6) 3-6 6-4 to win the Rogers Cup women's title in a rematch of their French Open finale in Montreal on Sunday.

Nadal sees off Khachanov to set up Tsitsipas showdown in Rogers Cup final

Nadal sees off Khachanov to set up Tsitsipas showdown in Rogers Cup final

World number one Rafael Nadal eased past Russia’s Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 to reach the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

RELATED NEWS

Roger Federer extends Western & Southern Open unbeaten streak to 11 matches
Roger Federer v Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4

Roger Federer extends Western & Southern Open unbeaten streak to 11 matches

Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Peter Gojowczyk, and Williams was eliminated by eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss.

Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati second round
Petra Kvitova v Serena Williams 6-3 2-6 6-3

Serena Williams falls to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati second round

Serena Williams was eliminated from the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, falling to eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss.

Novak Djokovic makes winning start in Cincinnati as Murray falls in opener
Novak Djokovic v Steve Johnson 6-4 7-6 (7/4)

Novak Djokovic makes winning start in Cincinnati as Murray falls in opener

Novak Djokovic overcame home favourite Steve Johnson, Stan Wawrinka beat Diego Schwartzman and Andy Murray was eliminated in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati
Lucas Pouille v Andy Murray 6-1, 1-6, 6-4

Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati

Andy Murray lost to Lucas Pouille 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday, clearing another obstacle for Roger Federer in this US Open tune-up.

Serena Williams bounces back with straight-set win at Western & Southern Open
Serena Williams v Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2

Serena Williams bounces back with straight-set win at Western & Southern Open

Serena Williams bounced back from the most lopsided loss of her career, cruising past Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2 at the Western & Southern Open on Monday.

After Rogers Cup crown, Rafael Nadal pulls out of Cincy tournament to rest
Western & Southern Open news

After Rogers Cup crown, Rafael Nadal pulls out of Cincy tournament to rest

Rafael Nadal dropped out of the Western & Southern Open on Sunday night, scuttling a reunion of the "Big Four."

Rafael Nadal topples birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto final
Rafael Nadal v Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 7-6(4)

Rafael Nadal topples birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto final

Rafael Nadal ended the red-hot run of Greek upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-2 7-6(4) win on Sunday that gave the Spanish top seed his fourth Rogers Cup championship.

Simona Halep beats Sloane Stephens in Montreal in repeat of French Open win
Simona Halep v Sloane Stephens 7-6(6) 3-6 6-4

Simona Halep beats Sloane Stephens in Montreal in repeat of French Open win

World number one Simona Halep turned back American Sloane Stephens 7-6(6) 3-6 6-4 to win the Rogers Cup women's title in a rematch of their French Open finale in Montreal on Sunday.

Nadal sees off Khachanov to set up Tsitsipas showdown in Rogers Cup final
Rafael Nadal v Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/3) 6-4

Nadal sees off Khachanov to set up Tsitsipas showdown in Rogers Cup final

World number one Rafael Nadal eased past Russia’s Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 to reach the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.