Back in 2012, Roger Federer claimed the first title of the season in Rotterdam, followed by five others to become world no. 1 again and finish as the year-end no. 2 behind Novak Djokovic. The 31-year-old Swiss had always been one of the most reliable indoor players on the Tour, reaching the final in nine out of ten tournaments under the roof ahead of 2013 and lifting seven trophies during that stint, hoping for more of the same during Rotterdam title defense.
Instead of that, Roger suffered a convincing 6-3, 7-5 loss to Julien Benneteau in an hour and 21 minutes on February 15, propelling the Frenchman into the semi-final and experiencing the earlier indoor loss since 2009 when Benneteau defeated him in the second round of the Paris Masters!
Julien played better on the second serve, fending off three out of five break chances and taking almost half of the return points to secure five breaks and hand Federer's 200th ATP loss! Roger struggled to find the rhythm in his games, spraying too many errors and winning only ten out of 30 points on the second serve to finish empty-handed.
Benneteau landed a backhand down the line winner in the first game to grab an early break and gain confidence, landing two winners at 30-30 in the second game to cement the advantage. The defending champion pulled the break back in the fourth game following a double fault from the Frenchman, only to spray a forehand error at 3-3 for another poor service game, sending the rival in front and allowing Julien to move 5-3 up thanks to another careless forehand from the Swiss.
Benneteau's backhand worked like a charm and it helped him to deliver another break at 5-3 and secure the opening set in style. Serving at 1-2 in the second set, Roger found himself a set and break down following another error, with Benneteau confirming the lead with two winners in the fifth game, moving closer to the finish line.
With no room for mistakes, Roger clinched eight straight points to get back into contention, earning a break at love in game seven and holding at 30 to level the score at 4-4. Julien got back on track with a hold at love in game nine before facing two break chances at 5-5.
He erased those with some powerful striking, saving the third break point with a service winner and holding with another one to move 6-5 in front. Serving to stay on the scoreboard, Roger sprayed a backhand error to give the set and the match to Benneteau who was the better player on the court on that day, securing the second indoor victory over Roger and getting revenge following that heartbreaking loss at Wimbledon a year ago when he wasted two sets to love advantage.