Roger Federer kick-started his attempts to become the oldest world number one in tennis history with a routine win over Ruben Bemelmans in round one at the Rotterdam Open.

The Swiss won 6-1 6-2 over the world number 116 in just 47 minutes, barely breaking sweat on his way to the last 16.

Federer will now play German Philipp Kohlschreiber in round two after he overcame Karen Khachanov.

A semi-final finish at the ABN AMBO World Tennis Tournament will be enough for Federer to replace Rafael Nadal at the top of the ATP standings.

And the 36-year-old began that campaign - in his first match since the Australian Open final last month - with as easy a win as he could have wished for.

In front of a capacity crowd at the Ahoy Rotterdam, Federer won the first five games in a row as Bemelmans, in his first meeting with the 20-time grand slam champion - looked overawed by the occasion.

Bemelmans had won two qualifying matches to reach the main draw but was unable to take advantage of the opportunity gifted to him. He did register one game but it acted as brief resistance as Federer took the opening set without delay.

The second set started in similar fashion with Federer claiming an early break as Bemelmans was made to scamper around the court, but to no avail.

The Belgian did reel off four straight points to trail 2-1 but he was unable to exert any genuine pressure on Federer, who dropped one further game before confirming victory in less than an hour.

Kohlschreiber awaits in the second round on Thursday [15 February], with Federer having won all 12 of their previous meetings including at last year's US Open.

His opponent in the quarter-finals could be Robin Hasse after he prevailed in the all-Dutch last 32 clash against wild card Thiemo de Bakker.

Federer's will eclipse Andre Agassi as the oldest world No.1 if he does indeed return to the summit of men's tennis, and he has been boosted by the injury withdrawals of Nick Kyrgios and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as well as the early exit of Stan Wawrinka, who was dumped out on day two by Tallon Griekspoor.

Roger Federer
Federer needed just 47 minutes to see of Bemelmans in his first match for three weeks. Getty Images