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Federer sets record as number one

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Roger Federer claimed a record for men's tennis dominance on Monday, when he celebrated his 161st consecutive week as world number one.

The Swiss eclipsed Jimmy Connors's 30-year-old milestone after extending a streak that began on February 2, 2004.

"I've been looking forward to this day to come and I'm very excited. That is definitely one of the biggest records I've broken so far in my career," Federer told reporters in Dubai.

American Connors enjoyed 160 weeks as the world's top-ranked player between July 1974 and August 1977.

The Swiss master is guaranteed to leave that benchmark far behind as his closest rival, Spain's Rafael Nadal, trails the 25-year-old by 3,415 points in the ATP system.

When the ATP updated the rankings at around 0500 GMT, they showed Federer atop with 8,120 points and Nadal on 4,705.

The rest lag far behind, with American Andy Roddick in third place on 2,830.

"I am profoundly proud of not only being able to compete with my opponents today, but also with history," Federer told his official Web site.

"One hundred and sixty one weeks is a long time and being able to lead this statistic from now on is a terrific feeling. As you can imagine it has taken a lot to come this far."

Such is Federer's dominance in the sport, the Swiss made sure he would overtake Connors by winning the season-ending Masters Cup in November.

The only tournament he has played since was last month's Australian Open, where he became the first man in 27 years to win a grand slam title without dropping a set.

"I guess I'm the best tennis player in the world. If I were another player, I would be amazed a little bit to see always the same guy winning," Federer said in Melbourne after his 10th grand slam triumph.

Trophy presentation

Federer was presented with a crystal trophy to mark his feat, prior to beating Denmark's Kristian Pless 7-6 3-6 6-3 to reach the second round in Dubai.

The former three-times champion, seeking to regain the title he conceded last year to Nadal, often struggles a little when he begins his Dubai campaign.

Federer had trouble getting on top of an opponent who served well and made few unforced errors. He failed to take advantage of a break point in each of the Dane's first two service games, but he dropped only five points on his own serve as he took the first set in a tiebreak, which he took 7-2.

There was only one break in the second set and one in the third, both coming at 2-1. Federer made a forehand error to drop his serve in the second, and Pless did the same in the third.

"The guy played very well," Federer told reporters. "I knew it was going to be tough and I'm just happy I'm through, really. Losing my first set of the year doesn't matter much. The way I came through, I'm really pleased about it.

"The thing was to just try and get returns back into play and give myself opportunities. The worst is when you feel like you can't even say your forehand or backhand is bad because you're not playing any."

Fourth-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo found that adapting from an indoor tournament in Rotterdam to playing outdoors in Dubai was beyond him as he fell 7-6 6-4 to wily French veteran Fabrice Santoro.

Sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych dropped the opening set to 370th-ranked Kuwaiti wild card Mohammed Al Ghareeb but recovered to win 3-6 6-3 6-2, and Slovak Dominik Hrbaty took just 56 minutes to overwhelm Omar Bahrouzyan of United Arab Emirates 6-1 6-2.

Bahrouzyan, who has never won a set in his seven appearances in the event, four times double-faulted on break points, and Hrbaty needed to make only two forehand and two backhand winners in the entire match.


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Federer has been number one in the world rankings since February 2, 2004.

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