Roger Federer has described his latest remarkable ascent to top of the ATP world rankings as the one that means the most to him.
The 36-year-old will become the oldest man to ever sit at the summit of the men's game on Monday after beating Robin Haase in three sets to reach the semi-finals of the Rotterdam Open, a run that will see him overtake old foe Rafael Nadal.
It is the crowning achievement of a stunning resurgence from the evergreen Federer, who was as low as 17th in the world in January 2017, having missed six months through injury in the previous year.
And Federer, now a four-time world number one, who holds the record for most weeks at the top with 302, believes this achievement outstrips the other times he held the title of best male player on the planet.
"I think reaching number one is one of the biggest, if not the ultimate, achievements in our sport," Federer, who was last number one in November 2012, said on court during a ceremony honouring his rise back to the top.
"Sometimes at the beginning you get there because you're playing so well, later you wrestle it back from someone else who deserves to be there, and when you're older you feel you maybe have to put sometimes double the work in.
"So, this one maybe means the most to me throughout my career, getting to number one and enjoying it at 36, almost 37, years old. It's a dream come true, I can't believe it."
Federer also, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, apologised to Haase, who had to sit through a farewell ceremony for the new number one's friend and retired compatriot Marco Chiudinelli in Basel last year.
"I'd also like to thank Robin for putting up a great fight, he's not been well all week," he added.
"Ironically, he has to go through another ceremony with another Swiss guy, six months ago in Basel he retired my good friend Marco and now he has to watch this, I'm sorry you have to watch these things!"
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