Roger Federer capped a week which saw him reclaim the world No 1 ranking for the first time in over five years with a comfortable straight sets victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Rotterdam Open on Sunday (18 February).
Federer, who will be officially confirmed as the new world No 1 on Monday, taking the esteemed title away from Rafael Nadal in the process, was rarely troubled by an opponent once nicknamed 'Baby Fed', serving up a masterclass in variation and control as he breezed to his third Rotterdam title with a 6-2, 6-2 win.
Dimitrov secured the first game in blistering fashion, finishing with a wonderfully angled forehand in response to a short Federer return. The Bulgarian then exerted some early pressure on his Swiss counterpart's first service game, but a wonderful forehand swung the momentum immediately back into Federer's favour.
It didn't take long for Dimitrov's serve to crack under the pressure. Inaccuracy plagued the world No 5 and, although he looked to have recovered with a couple of magnificent forehands, needless errors saw him dragged from the baseline and punished by Federer, who edged into a 3-2 lead as he watched his opponent's weak backhand fall at the net. The Swiss then held serve with relative comfort to amplify his advantage.
The early break allowed Federer to loosen the shackles, evidenced by his sprint to the net to volley a slack Dimitrov return, which was then unfortunately repeated by the 26-year-old, who was broken again by his clinical adversary. 5-2 was quickly made 6-2 by Federer, who assumed total control with a ruthless service game.
Dimitrov showed signs of life at the beginning of the second set, but he had to battle more than he would have liked to get to Deuce on serve. Wonderful variation from Federer handed him advantage, and a woeful backhand from the former Brisbane International champion allowed the new world No 1 to win his sixth game in a row. The seventh came with little fuss as he worked Dimitrov around the baseline he feared to leave.
Dimitrov, who seemed to suffer some discomfort in his knee early in the second set, finally managed to stop the rot, edging out Federer in less than imperious fashion to win his service game and halve the deficit to 2-1, but normal service was swiftly resumed by the 20-time Grand Slam champion, holding serve with minimal fuss before breaking Dimitrov, who had only lost one service game in his matches earlier in the week, for the fourth time.
Dimitrov managed to hold serve in fine style to haul himself back to 5-2, but it was simply too little, too late for the talented but erratic Bulgarian. Federer, so imperious and unforgiving ons serve this afternoon, forced his opponent into yet more mistakes with some stunning backhands and dragged him all over the court before a classic serve and volley winner saw him win his 97th ATP title in less than an hour. He may be heading towards his 37th birthday, but Federer is serving up some of the best tennis of one of the best sporting careers the world has ever seen.
"What a week it's been, absolutely amazing," Federer said after the match. "The goal was to make it to the semi's and I won so I am so, so happy. It's [Rotterdam Open] one of the great stops on the tour. I'd like to congratulate Grigor on a tough match at the end of a tough week.
"It's a dream week for us players, I'd like to thank the officials, linespeople, umpires and ball kids. I'm still living the dream, hopefully I'll come back to Rotterdam one day, I don't know how many years I will still be playing for."