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ATP Rotterdam 2018 draw preview and matches to watch: No. 1 hopeful Roger Federer leads stacked ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament field

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 10 Feb 2018
  • Roger Federer's quest to reclaim the world no. 1 ranking dominates the Rotterdam storylines
  • Federer is joined by Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev and more
  • ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis is live from Rotterdam from 12-18 February 2018
Roger Federer's quest to reclaim the world no. 1 ranking is the main storyline at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in 2018, live from Rotterdam from 12-18 February (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Roger Federer’s quest to reclaim the world no. 1 ranking puts him on a collision course with Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, live from Rotterdam 12-18 February.



Always a highlight of the brief spring European indoor season, the 500-level ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam features an exceptionally high-quality field in 2018 – and was elevated to must-watch status after the news that Roger Federer had taken a wildcard into the tournament.

Unbeaten so far in 2018 after claiming his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, Federer trails Rafael Nadal by just 155 points in the rankings and could reclaim the world no. 1 ranking after more than five years by reaching the semifinals in Rotterdam. He would become the oldest man to be ranked world no. 1 if he did, surpassing the previous record-holder Andre Agassi by four years or so. 

Federer has won the Rotterdam title twice, in 2005 (d. Ivan Ljubicic) and 2012 (d. Juan Martin del Potro), but he is up against some stiff competition in 2018 with a field including top-10 players Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev and David Goffin, as well as defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka.

We break down the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament draw for 2018.

Top quarter

Predicted quarterfinal: Roger Federer (1) vs Stan Wawrinka (5) (20-3)
Needing to reach the semifinals to be ranked world no. 1 again at the age of 36, Federer has to win three matches as he returns to the ABN AMRO WTT for the first time since losing to Julien Benneteau in the 2013 quarterfinals – and with a draw so stacked, he has a lucky break in that his first match will be against a qualifier.

Powerful young Russian Karen Khachanov is a potential second-round opponent for Federer, as is the declining Philipp Kohlschreiber, but it’s difficult to see either beating Federer.

A quarterfinal clash against Stan Wawrinka would be a blockbuster match, even if Federer is unbeaten against his Swiss compatriot on hard courts. But Wawrinka may well not get there. Still on the comeback trail after two knee surgeries in late 2017, Wawrinka has looked a lot fitter than he did in Melbourne this week at the Sofia Open, where he’s reached the semifinals at the time of writing. But back-to-back deep runs might be beyond Wawrinka at this early stage of his return to full competitive fitness and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he pulled out. The other three players in this section are all Dutch, two of them wildcards, and the likeliest alternative opponent to stand between Federer and the world no. 1 ranking is world no. 42 Robin Haase – not too intimidating a prospect.

Semifinalist: Federer

Second quarter

Predicted quarterfinal: Alexander Zverev (3) vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8) (1-2)
It hasn’t been a great start to 2018 for Alexander Zverev, who lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Hyeon Chung, but the world no. 4 turned things around with a confidence-boosting Davis Cup performance against Australia and proved he can play well indoors when he won the Open Sud de France in Montpellier last year – will he live up to his seeding in Rotterdam?

It’s an extremely tough draw for the third seed, who starts against the ever-dangerous, never-less-than-dogged David Ferrer and could have to cope with the huge serve of Gilles Muller – who hasn’t been on great form recently but is always going to be dangerous on a fast court – in the second round. A quarterfinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the defending champion, looms with Tsonga leading their head-to-head 2-1 – Richard Gasquet is also in this section and could meet Tsonga in the second round, although both must make quick transitions after reaching the semifinals in Montpellier this week. 

Semifinalist: Tsonga


Third quarter

Predicted quarterfinal: Tomas Berdych (4) vs David Goffin (6) (2-1)
Champion at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in 2014 and runner-up to Stan Wawrinka in 2015, Tomas Berdych has reached the semifinals or better on his last four appearances in Rotterdam and the world no. 16 played well in a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open (although he did then pull out of a tournament this week). 

His first-round match against Mischa Zverev could be an intriguing one if the German has recovered from the illness he was suffering in Melbourne – and/or rediscovered some form after fairly dismal recent results – and Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat him in Doha, is Berdych’s probable second-round opponent, but it’s a much smoother draw than the one that confronts 2017 runner-up David Goffin. The sixth seed opens against the mercurial Benoit Paire with the aggressive Feliciano Lopez a likely second-round opponent, and after playing Davis Cup and then Montpellier – where he’s in the semifinals at the time of writing – a deep run for Goffin might be too much to expect. Berdych should take advantage.

Semifinalist: Berdych

Fourth quarter

Predicted quarterfinal: Lucas Pouille (7) vs Grigor Dimitrov (2) (0-2)
With a 10-6 record in Rotterdam and his best result at the ABN AMRO WTT a semifinal run in 2013, Grigor Dimitrov comes into this year’s event under a bit of a cloud as a shoulder injury caused him to pull out of last week’s Sofia Open – and may have contributed to an uneven January as well. 

What Dimitrov does have going for him, if he’s fit, is perhaps the best draw possible in this stacked field. He opens against Yuichi Sugita, who has been playing well recently but shouldn’t challenge Dimitrov too much, with Canadian wildcard Felix Auger-Aliassime or last year’s surprise Paris finalist Filip Krajinovic in the second round. 

Vienna champion Lucas Pouille, who is in the Montpellier semifinals to face Tsonga at the time of writing, is a good indoors player but could be on upset alert in the first round against rising Russian Andrey Rublev. Rublev knocked Dimitrov out of the US Open last year (but lost to him in Melbourne in January) – could we see a Rotterdam rematch?

Semifinalist: Rublev

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis is live from Rotterdam from 12-18 February. Click here to find out how to watch live tennis action online


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ATP Rotterdam 2018 draw preview and matches to watch: No. 1 hopeful Roger Federer leads stacked ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament field

ATP Rotterdam 2018 tennis is live from Rotterdam from 12-18 February with top seed Roger Federer joined by Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev and Stan Wawrinka

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