The Swiss, who earlier this week confirmed his return to the top of the ATP world rankings at the age of 36, breezed past his Bulgarian opponent 6-2 6-2 on the way to his 97th tour-level trophy.
Federer told www.atpworldtour.com: “It’s definitely one of those weeks I will never forget in my life. It’s unbelievable to get my 97th title and get back to world number one. It’s very special.
“I was expecting it to be tough today. Grigor is a great player and a great athlete and he’s been playing super well in recent months.
“I thought that this wasn’t going to be the result, but he looked to be struggling a bit and I never looked back. I was able to execute my tennis the way I wanted to. I’m very happy.”
Federer, who had previously won in the Dutch city in 2005 and 2012, assumed control after breaking in the fifth game in front of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands as Dimitrov made 13 unforced errors in the first set.
An immediate break in the second set him on the road to a comfortable victory and 401,580 Euros – around £355,385 – prize money inside an hour.
Dimitrov, who had not dropped a set on his way to the final, was far from at his best, but left with a cheque for 196,875 Euros, or £174,228.
After becoming the oldest World No1 in history, there’s plenty of people who say Roger Federer is not only the greatest tennis player of all time but the best-ever sportsman, too.
Here, our writers discuss who they think the best is in our top-three format debate.
STUART APPLEBY, SAYS:
1. ROGER FEDERER
Quite simply, the perfect sportsman. Titles, records and longevity are the main hallmarks of his staggering success at the top of the game over a 15-year period but it’s the Swiss’s professionalism, high-level of sportsmanship and will to keep going and going which sets him apart. As his climb back to the top of the rankings has proved, Federer is the man that can do no wrong and probably the most popular athlete around.
2. MUHAMMAD ALI:
Appropriately, the boxing king was nicknamed “The Greatest” and certainly lived up to that billing in a remarkable career and life. He was the only heavyweight champion in history to hold the lineal championship on three different occasions. Fought in the toughest ever era, with his eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in 1974 being one of the best-ever fights. Huge personality and presence which has never been matched.
3. LIONEL MESSI
Amazingly, he is still only 30 and going from strength to strength. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the ultimate individual but also team player, possessing skill and talent of which the game hadn’t seen so consistently before. He was the main man behind arguably the best club side in history, leading Barcelona to a glittering array of titles particularly between 2008 and 2012. Can do anything on the pitch and just loves the game.
ALEX BROUN, SAYS:
1. MICHAEL PHELPS
There are many who have a claim on the GOAT but I’m going to start with the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. He has also won the most Olympic gold medals (23), and in Beijing in 2008 broke fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven golds at any single Olympic Games. He also did it over five Olympics, four of which he was the most successful athlete of the Games.
2. ROGER FEDERER
In terms of consistency, technique and longevity the Swiss has to be up there. Federer has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles including a record eight Wimbledons, a record six Australian Opens and a record five consecutive US Opens. He has held the World No1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 302 weeks and has displayed a remarkable level to get back to the summit of the game.
3. CRISTIANO RONALDO
This might be controversial as I’m including one and not the other (Messi), but an equal most five Ballon d’Or awards, five league titles and four Champions Leagues puts him right up there. He also continues to produce year after year. Perhaps his most extraordinary achievement was lifting a very ordinary Portugal team to the European Championship in 2016. He’s the sort of player who makes other players around him play better.
MATT JONES, SAYS:
1. MICHAEL JORDAN
Nicknamed Air Jordan, he might as well have walked on air with how much better he was than any other athlete during his mega successful basketball career. Jordan was a six-time NBA champion and NBA finals MVP, five-time most valuable player and a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the USA. Was so good he even ventured into baseball in homage to his murdered father, although that didn’t turn out to be quite so successful.
2. JERRY RICE
Considered to not just be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, but also a shout for being called the greatest NFL player of all time. He is the all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers, including 208 touchdowns, and remains miles ahead today even 13 years after retiring. Won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers during their heyday and was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times in a 20-year career.
3. USAIN BOLT
Not only was Bolt untouchable on his day but he made what he did look fun too. The joyful Jamaican mixed slick showmanship with incredible speed to break a string of world records. He is the first person to hold both the 100m and 200m world records and is the only sprinter to have won Olympic 100m and 200m titles at three consecutive Olympics. Also holds the 100m world record time of 9.58 seconds, set in Berlin in 2009.
Roger Federer celebrated becoming the oldest man to reach the world number one ranking by making the Rotterdam Open final on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Italy’s Andreas Seppi despite losing sleep watching early-morning coverage of the Winter Olympics.
The 36-year-old Federer racked up his 14th win from 15 matches with 33-year-old Seppi, the world number 81 who had enjoyed a memorable week in the Dutch port city by reaching the semi-finals as a ‘lucky loser’.
Top-seeded Federer will face Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday’s final.
Dimitrov, the second seed, advanced to the semi-finals when Belgian opponent David Goffin was forced to retire after injuring his eye when the ball flew off his own racquet.
Dimitrov was leading 6-3, 0-1 at the time.
Federer said that despite not getting much sleep due to the excitement of his latest achievement – and draining more energy by watching the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the pre-dawn hours – he expects to be fighting fit for his Sunday showdown which could result in a 97th career trophy.
“I felt OK today, maybe a bit heavy on court but I was aggressive,” the 20-time Grand Slam title winner said.
“I started finding energy midway through the first set, but the start was tough.”
The two-time Rotterdam champion, who guaranteed a return to the world top spot by seeing off Robin Haase in the quarter-finals on Friday, added that he will be ready to go for his first afternoon match of the week after playing the night showcase slots.
“I’m good, it’s not been a tough week physically, maybe a bit harder emotionally,” he added.
“I hope to play one more good match and that’s it for the week.”
Federer also dropped a big hint that he still might play the Dubai tournament, which begins a week from Monday.
The seven-time winner of the Gulf tournament said that he will take a decision later in the week one way or the other.
“It’s still open,” he said.
Despite enjoying a 6-0 career stranglehold over Dimitrov, with their last meeting in the 2017 Wimbledon fourth round, the top seed will not take anything for granted on Sunday.
“I know him very well, he had an incredible year last season, winning London (the World Tour Finals) and Cincinnati. He’s beaten some good players and started this year solid.
“This has to be a week where he wants to win this tournament. I’ll try my best and hope it’s enough,” said Federer.