February 15, 2018 / 9:01 PM / 4 months ago

Tennis: Federer closes in on world number one ranking

(Reuters) - Roger Federer is one win from becoming the oldest world number one in ATP Tour history after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(8) 7-5 in the last 16 of the Rotterdam Open on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Switzerland's Roger Federer holds his Australian Open trophy as he is welcomed by fans upon his arrival at Zurich Airport, Switzerland January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann -

The 36-year-old needs to reach the semi-finals to overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings and reclaim the world number one ranking for the first time since November 2012.

Kohlschreiber, 34, had not beaten Federer in 12 attempts but on his own service game proved a tough opponent for the Swiss, pushing him all the way to a first set tiebreak.

The German even had two set points but could not convert them as Federer rallied and placed a forehand perfectly beyond Kohlschreiber to take the lead in the match after 54 minutes.

The second set followed a similar pattern but with Kohlschreiber, ranked 36 in the world, more attuned to Federer’s serve and improving his return rate.

He still had to save four break points without getting close himself to threatening the Australian Open champion’s serve.

Kohlschreiber’s resistance was finally breached in the 11th game as 20-times grand slam winner Federer overpowered his opponent and went on to comfortably serve out the set.

Federer would surpass American Andre Agassi as the oldest world number one if he wins his next match in Rotterdam and he would also set another record of the longest gap (five years and 106 days) between periods as number one.

He already holds the record for most weeks spent at number one, having topped the rankings for a combined 302 weeks.

Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Ken Ferris

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