Roger Federer has cemented his place at the top of the ATP rankings without having to hit a ball after his points lead over Rafael Nadal increased thanks to the Spaniard's withdrawal from the Mexican Open.

The 31-year-old pulled out of the Acapulco event at the 11<sup>th hour – relinquishing the 300 ranking points he won from finishing as last year's runner-up – after suffering a recurrence of a hip problem which dogged him at the Australian Open.

Nadal has also opted to skip the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami this month in order to ensure he is fully fit for the clay court season, which could allow Federer to pull further ahead as the oldest world number one in tennis history.

Federer has lost 45 points from his tally after he opted to spend last week with his family rather than compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships but he could not have expected in his wildest dreams that his advantage at the top would grow, after the ATP standings were officially recalculated on Monday (5 March).

The absence of the pair, as well as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's injury problems, gave an opportunity to players further down the rankings to make significant gains ahead of the North American hard-court swing.

Among those were Roberto Bautista Agut and Juan Martin del Potro, who claimed the titles in Dubai and Mexico and who moved to 16<sup>th and 8<sup>th in the world thanks to their wins over Lucas Pouille and Kevin Anderson in their respective finals.

It was not all doom and gloom for Pouille however as the Frenchman was rewarded for his third final appearance of the year by climbing to a career high 12<sup>th in the standings, while Nicolas Jarry's runner-up finish at the Brasil Open was enough for him to do similar, as he rose 12 places to 61<sup>st.

No player made a greater jump than 34-year-old Malek Jaziri who after overcoming the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Robin Haase in Dubai went up 33 places to 84<sup>th, losing in the semi-finals to eventual champion Bautista Agut.

Thanks to Murray losing the 500 points from his win last year in Dubai, Kyle Edmund has been installed as the new British number one, ending the Scot's 12-year reign as his nation's premier player.

Should the Australian Open semi-finalists progress beyond the third round in Indian Wells – which begins in earnest on Thursday (8 March) then Edmund will extend his lead over Murray whose drop in the rankings can be attributed to the eight months he has spent out of the sport with a hip problem.

The three-time major champion is back on the practice court (The Daily Mail) and is eyeing a return in time for the grass court season, which begins at Queen's Club in June. Though currently 28<sup>th in the ATP rankings he is likely to lose further ground on the world's top players by the time he resumes playing.

Roger Federer
Federer didn't have to lift a finger to extend his lead as world number one. Getty Images