Top seed Roger Federer won a fourth successive indoor title and his 71st career crown when he hammered Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4 to win his second Rotterdam Open on Sunday.
Federer ended last year with a hat-trick of trophies in Basel, Paris and London, before picking up this week where he left off in the Dutch city seven years ago where he won his first Rotterdam event.
“Even if I had a good indoor season last year, this is a great start. It was tough to come back and play Davis Cup and here, but I did it,” Federer said.
“I also managed to stay positive after the Davis Cup loss, which was important for me. This court feels like home to me,” added the 30-year-old, who was part of the Swiss team defeated 5-0 by the US the previous weekend.
The victory took Federer’s record against del Potro to 9-2, with the Swiss winning three of four in the series after losing the 2009 US Open final to the South American.
Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam winner, has now assured himself of a 12th consecutive year in which he has won at least one ATP Tour title.
“It’s incredible that it took me seven years to come back and defend my title, I hope the next time is not so long, but if it is, then it means I’ll be playing for another seven years,” said Federer, who saved all seven break points he faced in a reassuring 88-minute victory.
Federer stormed into a 5-0 lead, with del Potro finally troubling his Swiss rival after 28 minutes when he rallied for 1-5, but Federer maintained his red-hot form to sweep the set in 33 minutes.
Del Potro’s resistance stiffened in the second, with Federer saving break points in the fourth, sixth and eighth games.
“I just tried to stay in the point and not make mistakes. I kept this mindset throughout the match and it really helped,” Federer said. “I may have won the first set easy, but of course I knew that the second would not be as easy. I had to fight, but I fought well. I tried to move forward against him and change the angle, the rhythm and the speed of the shot.”
Federer closed out the contest on his second match point.
“Juan Martin had a great week,” Federer said. “He’s playing great tennis. I hope to see you at the [November’s] World Tour Finals.”
Federer’s winning week ended a run of two straight singles losses — in the Australian Open semi-final to Rafael Nadal and a Davis Cup rubber against John Isner.
“I felt a bit tired early in the week, it’s been a busy few weeks for me. I pushed myself to get better as the week went on. At the end, I felt I was playing my best,” the world No. 3 said.
AFP, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
Third seed Milos Raonic successfully defended his SAP Open crown by routing Denis Istomin 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 for his third career title on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Canadian dominated unseeded Istomin with his serve, hammering seven aces and winning 90 percent of his first-serve points in the 79-minute match.
“I feel amazing,” Raonic said. “It is great to come back here. There was a little more pressure than last year, but I am really happy with the tennis I played this week.”
Raonic, who had a bye in the first round, did not drop a set in the US$531,000 indoor tournament, winning four straight matches at the HP Pavilion Arena, which also serves as the home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
The world No. 32 is also a perfect eight-for-eight in tiebreakers at the event over two years.