Roger Federer moved a step closer to reclaiming the top spot in men's tennis when he beat Belgium's Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 6-2 in the Rotterdam Open on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Swiss master needs only to reach the semi-finals at the ABN Amro tennis event to overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the ATP rankings and become world number one for the first time since November 2012.
He captured the first set from the 116th-ranked Bemelmans in only 19 minutes, having won the first five games with a flurry of fine shot-making, picking up where he left off in Melbourne last month where he won the first grand slam of the year.
The imperious Federer had Bemelmans scampering all over the court to retrieve the ball but it always looked a hopeless task.
The Belgian pulled the score back to 3-2 in the second set but that was the last game he managed and Federer finished the job in 46 minutes.
Federer would surpass American Andre Agassi as the oldest world number one if he wins his next two matches in Rotterdam and he would also set another record of the longest gap (five years and 106 days) between periods as number one.
He already holds the record for most weeks spent at number one, having topped the rankings for a combined 302 weeks.
Nishikori dominant in second round win in New York
Japan's Kei Nishikori continued his smooth progress in his first ATP Tour event since August, brushing past Russia's Evgeny Donskoy 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the inaugural New York Open on Wednesday.
The Japanese fifth seed, who won his opening match in straight sets a day earlier, was in full control from the start and hit seven aces during the victory. Nishikori broke Donskoy's service twice in the opening set to pull away and then earned another crucial break with the second set tied at 2-2.
The 28-year-old won 84 percent of his service points. It was another positive step for Nishikori, who last August suffered a right wrist injury which forced him to miss last year's US Open and the Australian Open at the start of the season.
The former US Open finalist has since made his comeback to competition by playing in Challenger events.
Dominant Wozniacki, Halep cruise into Qatar Open third round
Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki swatted aside German Carina Witthoeft at the Qatar Open on Wednesday while an equally dominant Simona Halep joined the world number one in the third round making short work of Ekaterina Makarova.
Wozniacki, who won 6-2, 6-0, struck 18 winners and claimed six out of 12 break points to progress and takes on 14th seed Magdalena Rybarikova or Monica Niculescu next.
Top seed Wozniacki, coming into the event on the back of a quarter-final finish at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, was broken once early in the opening set but recovered quickly to win the match in just under an hour.
Halep, playing in her first tournament since her defeat by Wozniacki in the Australian Open final last month, eased past Russia's Makarova 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and 11 minutes.
The Romanian second seed cruised to a one-set lead and saved four breakpoints in the first game of the second set to halt a comeback attempt by her Russian opponent. She then reeled off the next five games in a row to prevail.
Halep faces Anastasija Sevastova in the next round after the Latvian beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-1. Johanna Konta also progressed to the round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Carla Suarez Navarro.
Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova came back from a set down to move past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
Bhambri outlasts Uchiyama to reach semis; easy for Thompson
India's Yuki Bhambri, the second-seed, today booked a spot in the semi-final of the Chennai Open ATP Challenger tennis tournament here, with a come-from-behind win over Japan's Yasutaka Uchiyama.
The 25-year-old Delhi player, allowed his rival to bounce back when in sight of the first set, before regrouping to take the next two on a hot afternoon to post a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win.
Bhambri failed to convert the chances he had and allowed the sixth-seeded Uchiyama to take the first set.
He raised his game in the second with some fluent shots and broke twice to run away to a 5-1 lead before wrapping up set in 28 minutes.
The Indian number one came up with some impressive winners in the decider as the Japanese seemed to wilt and closed out the match with a forehand volley winner.
The No.111 ranked Bhambri will next meet Korea's Duckhee Lee, the third-seed, in the semi-final.
Lee posted a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over unseeded Frenchman Antoine Escoffier, who had beaten India's Sumit Nagal in the opening round.
Top-seed Jordan Thompson had things easy as he sailed into the last four when his rival Danilo Petrovic of Serbia retired while trailing 4-6, 0-3.
The Australian will meet Pedro Martinez of Spain, who knocked out third-seeded Mohammed Safwat of Egypt 7-5, 6-2, for a place in the final.
Sharapova, Keys pull out of Dubai
Former world number one Maria Sharapova and US Open finalist Madison Keys have pulled out of next week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the tournament organisers said on Thursday.
Five-times grand slam winner Sharapova, who had a accepted a wildcard to make her first appearance at the tournament since 2006, decided to withdraw citing a forearm strain.
Sharapova lost her opening round match at the Qatar Open on Monday to Romania's Monica Niculescu in three sets and is currently ranked 41 in the world.
The 30-year-old Russian has a 21-10 win-loss record since her return from a doping ban last April.
American world number 14 Keys, who was expected to make her Dubai debut, has withdrawn due to illness.
"Unfortunately both Maria Sharapova and Madison Keys have regretfully had to withdraw from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships due to injury and illness," tournament director Salah Tahlak said in a statement.
"We are sorry that neither Maria nor Madison will be able to play in Dubai, but we still have one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the WTA event.
"Maria said that she is very sorry she cannot be here and hopes to come back next year. We wish her and Madison a speedy recovery."
The tournament begins on Monday with world number two Simona Halep set to lead the field alongside defending champion Elina Svitolina.