ATP World Tour Finals Guide: Elite Eight Out To Claim O2 Crown
| November 4th, 2012, 6:38 pm
  • 159 Comments

By Matt McGladrigan

For the statistical purists out there, looking at this year’s male winners of the tennis Grand Slams has a satisfying feel. Each one of the top four players in the world has taken one title home for themselves and all on their best surface, and at their favourite Grand Slam. The first bragging rights of the season went to 2011′s stand-out player Novak Djokovic, after he again defeated Rafael Nadal, this time at the Australian Open in Melbourne. It was the Spaniard, though, that gained revenge on the orange clay of Roland Garros, with his 7th French Open title. A few weeks later and it was neither of those players that featured in, undoubtedly, the biggest and best Slam of them all, at that famous postcode of SW19. Andy Murray made it into his first ever Wimbledon final, but had to take on a man who was appearing in a record eighth.

Murray, despite capturing the hearts of Britain, couldn’t capture the trophy from out of the hands of the great Roger Federer. When the British number one got over the Atlantic, he finally managed everything he’d been aiming for since his youth. In an absolute thriller of a final under the floodlights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York, Murray ousted Serbian Djokovic in 5 long sets, to claim his first Grand Slam title. So, all in all, a very nice symmetrical year of tennis on the men’s side: Federer mopping up on grass at his tournament, as usual; Nole winning for the third time in Australia on his preferred hard court; Rafa being the King of Clay; With Murray then getting his first Slam at the tournament where it was always said he had the greatest chance. Throw in a gold medal for the Scot too and a record-breaking stand at number one for the silkiest Swiss guy ever to be in existence, and that’s 2012 of tennis. Just one more tournament to negotiate and that’s what I’m going to talk about now in this feature.

The ATP World Tour Finals begin at the O2 Arena in London on Monday afternoon. Players fight throughout the entirety of the season to earn points from tournaments and be ranked in the world’s top 8 in order to qualify for this end-of-year championship. The 8 qualifiers are arranged into two groups of 4 with a round-robin format ensuing. Rafael Nadal has had to pull out because of injury, opening up a slot to the 9th best player. Roger Federer has won on the past two occasions in London, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year and great rival Nadal in 2010. Those last two victories make it a record six times now, that the Swiss maestro has got his hands on the trophy. Despite being guaranteed to lose his number one ranking at the end of 2012, Federer remains one of the hot favourites going into London. The completely different set-up to the tournament though, with the round robin, makes it extremely different to predict who will flourish. The superb summer of sport for GB competitors, particularly the triumphs of Murray, has seen ticket sales for this event soar. Every session is expected to be completely sold out, with fans willing to let money leave their wallets/purses, despite the poor economic climate, to catch a glimpse of the top players in the sport. Here’s who those men are…

Group A
First up to consider is the Serbian man who left the world behind in 2011, picking up three of the Grand Slam titles, including his first titles on the grass of SW19 and in New York. Novak Djokovic, who will return to world number one on Monday, has had a less impressive year this time around. But, still, less impressive for the Serb is incredible for the rest of the Tour. He was made to fight all the way in Australia to retain his title back in January. Two brutal encounters in the last two rounds, with Murray and Nadal respectively, pushed him to the limit. The final, lasting 5 hours and 53 minutes, was a classic conflict between Nadal’s spinning, powerful forehand and the powerful cross-court backhand of Djokovic, and was the longest Grand Slam singles final in Open Era history. Once again, the latter came out on top, in another gripping chapter to the rivalry between the Serb and the Spaniard.

Djokovic, who was actually sought after by British tennis bosses in 2006 to switch his national allegiance to that of GB (I learnt the other day – imagine if that had happened), was defeated in the finals of the French and US Open, and lost to Federer in the penultimate semi-final stage at Wimbledon. At one stage, he nearly managed to hold all of the Grand Slam titles at the same point in 2012, but was denied by Rafa in Paris. Despite those losses, Nole has racked up 11,420 ranking points in the race to London this season. He won in Miami, at the Rogers Cup, the China Open and in Shanghai.

He hasn’t been as dominating as in 2011. He has pushed the players around him to get up to his level and they have. As Boris Becker states in his recent Telegraph feature, “It is always harder to defend points, to be the man hunted, than to be the hunter”. The other players knew he was the man to beat as the midnight chimes sounded, dawning the new year of 2012. Is he still the man to beat?

I believe so. He’s been arguably the most consistent player of the year and the ranking points that he’s accumulated underline that. He’s going back to being the number one player. He’s suffered some tough losses throughout the season to his big rivals, but he’s been up there and fighting hard in every major tournament. His movement around the court has got even better from the already immense standard that it was at in 2011. We have seen his ability to battle at crucial situations in matches – match points saved in huge games against Tsonga at the French and Murray in Shanghai. If anyone beats Djokovic to the title in London, it will be someone pretty special.

Moving onto the home favourite now, in what has undoubtedly been the best year of his tennis career. Murray-mania has hit unprecedented heights in 2012, with the nation brushing aside what was judged to be the somewhat moody personality of the Scot and now supporting him all the way. This is largely thanks to a teary-eyed speech given after his heart-wrenching loss to Mr Wimbledon in the final at the All England Club. But, also, due to the success he has had since that Sunday afternoon in July.

It was gold for Andy Murray in London. He gained revenge over Roger Federer at the Olympics, by powering past the Swiss in straight sets. This was a big win for him; it boosted his confidence in preparation of his next assault at a Grand Slam title in New York. Emulating Fred Perry and ending a 76-year wait for a men’s champion, Murray outlasted Novak Djokovic in 5 sets to lift the Flushing Meadows’ title. I think we even got a smile from coach Ivan Lendl. It was an astonishing match from start to finish, in which the Scot went ahead two sets to zip, only to see the defending champion battle back to force a fifth. But Murray wasn’t to be denied for a fifth time in a row in a Slam final and found something more to finally close out the match and usurp the Serbian.

Looking at what else has occurred during the year of Andy Murray, we see he started off by winning in Brisbane. He was then beaten in the semi-finals of Australia by defending champion Djokovic and had a largely poor clay-court season, only managing the quarters at Roland Garros. Summer and autumn have been relatively kind to him though. The final at Wimbledon was followed by a singles’ gold and mixed doubles’ silver, with Laura Robson, at the Olympic Games. After the US Open, he has a mixed run in tournaments, the best a final appearance in Shanghai. Guaranteed to end the year as number 3 in the world, Murray, in my eyes, probably goes into London as 2nd favourite, behind Nole. He has proven that he can beat both him and Federer though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hometown crowd propel the Scot to glory in the last event of this ATP year.
Murray is the man the crowd at the O2 want to win. After his success in the Big Apple, there have been musings over whether he can put himself at the top of the pile in men’s tennis now, by claiming the world number one ranking and by starting to dominate at the Slams. He can show them all what he has the potential to bring in 2013, at this last event. To become number one, he’ll have to take down Novak in Australia, do well enough at the French (an event that I doubt he’ll win with Nadal around), and knock off Roger at SW19. I think that latter one is the key to next year though. Us Brits want to see a home Wimbledon champion, and after winning the US and reaching the final in London in 2012, it’s only fair that we can put that pressure on him. My ballot form is winging its way to the post boxes of the South West of the capital as we speak. But, for now, we’ll see how he gets on in a different part of London from Monday onwards. It’s a tough group, but what do you expect when the top 8 players meet all together. He has a great chance.

Murray-Djokovic rivalry…
Many are now proposing that this conflict is the most scintillating of them all. This was the match-up we wanted to see in London in the group stage, wasn’t it? Probably the top 2 in the latter section of the year, every Murray-Djokovic game seems to be a blockbuster. Most points are gruesome baseline rallies, backhands flying all over the court. They’ve met 6 times in 2012, making that 16 meetings in total, and each has won 3 apiece. Each player has won one Grand Slam match against the other this year and both have been on a knife edge – Djokovic in the semi at Melbourne Park and Murray in the final at Flushing Meadows. Fans have spent hours-upon-hours watching these two battling it out in 2012.
Are they pushing the bar for Federer and Nadal to try and follow? Recent results suggest so. Murray comfortably wiped Roger off the court in Shanghai, and Federer’s overall form coming into London has not been great – lesser-ranked Del Potro defeated him in the final of the Swiss Indoors, only the quarters in New York. This rivalry of the Scot and the Serb has been the best in the men’s game this year, particularly since Rafa has been nursing his injured knee. We’ve kind of forgotten how good Nadal is after not seeing him in action for many months now. But Murray and Djokovic are the ones to watch currently. Only a week separates the two men in age. Their matches are aggressive, packed with skill and power, full of sublime movement and, most of all, extremely close. Expect more of the same as they, possibly firstly, take each other on in the round robin phase of the tournament. They are two evenly matched players who are pushing each other to better their all-round games. Plus, they both have a lot more to give in their careers and are improving. To be honest, I can’t wait for Nadal to be back, to see how he fits in with the other three at the moment. It really is exciting times at the top of men’s tennis: we are locked in a four-way clash for supremacy.

Next up is world number six, Tomas Berdych, as the third name in Group A. The tall, powerful Czech has the ability to beat anyone on his day, but is too much of an up-and-down player to really challenge the top. Thus, this type of tournament, where there are three games to try and make an impression in, might be his cup of tea. One bad day doesn’t necessarily ruin your chances of progressing to the next stage.

Berdych’s consistency has really been highlighted in 2012, with quarter final and semi-final appearances at the Australian and US Opens respectively, but first round losses in both of the major London-based tournaments (Wimbledon and the Olympics). He will be hoping that he doesn’t complete a hat-trick at the O2 Arena. In reaching the quarters at Melbourne Park, he caused controversy by refusing to shake Nicolas Almagro’s hand after believing that the Spaniard had deliberately hit a shot at him. The Czech reached four finals this season, winning two of them in Stockholm and Montpellier. He’s had success playing for his country in 2012 too – winning the Hopman Cup with Petra Kvitova and being a runner-up at the Power Horse World Team Cup (I’ve never heard of it either).

You feel that Berdych faces a tough contest in his opening match, when he takes on crowd favourite Murray on Monday afternoon. That’s despite him actually having a winning record against the Scot. Their most recent game, though, came in the US Open semi-final where Murray came through relatively comfortably in 4 sets. On big occasions, you have to favour the world number three.

Berdych won’t go down without a fight though and he has proved that he can beat the best in the world – again knocking Roger Federer out at the quarter final stage of a Grand Slam in New York just a couple of months ago. He has many weapons which can hurt his opponents, particularly the great power that he generates off his serve and groundstrokes. Perhaps a weakness in his all-round game is that of his movement. It’s not on the same level as the top 4. It’s such a vital part of the sport these days, to be able to chase down one more ball and give yourself another chance in the rally. Clearly, the Czech needs to get off to a good start in the event by getting something out of his match with Andy Murray, otherwise it will be curtains, with Djokovic and Tsonga to come. He’s got the better of Tsonga twice in recent weeks, in Stockholm and Shanghai. So, I think it’ll be just the one win from three for the huge Czech star.

Completing the first group of four of the best players in the world is flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He has slipped down to number seven in the world but has still had a solid year on the Tour. His season began in Doha, where he claimed the Qatar Open title by defeating countryman Gael Monfils (where has he disappeared to?) in the final. A round of 16 defeat at the Australian Open was followed by a narrow quarter final reverse to Novak Djokovic – a game in which the Frenchman failed to convert four match points, much to the agony of the partisan crowd in Paris. The grass court season started disastrously with an opening round defeat at Queens, in which he sprained his finger badly, leaving him a doubt for Wimbledon.

The injury turned out well though as Tsonga did compete at SW19 and, after a shock defeat was handed out to Rafael Nadal, he got through to the semi-finals to take on Andy Murray. The Briton was victorious though, in a match which was particularly infamous for Jo-Wilfried being hit by a ball in an unfortunate place. The British crowd on Centre Court and BBC commentary team enjoyed the moment, with comments of “new balls please” being made.

The US Open wasn’t a good tournament for Tsonga, where he succumbed to a second round defeat. This was followed by a title at the Moselle Open in France, but a loss in the final of the China Open to Djokovic, who the Le Mans-born player opens against in London on Monday. Tsonga has given Nole more problems than many other players throughout his career and they maintain a strong rivalry. However, the Serbian has won all 4 meetings between the pair in 2012, not boding well for the Frenchman come Monday evening.

So, last year’s finalist has losing records against each of his group opponents and I don’t think the statistics will lie in this tournament. I can’t see Tsonga getting a victory in the group really and I think it’ll be an early flight back across the channel for him. Saying that, his serve and power are both huge weapons. Similarly with Berdych, his movement isn’t his best attribute. In fact, those two are very similar, confidence players. Thus, I’d expect a decent match between them at the O2 arena come this week.

Group B
We’ll begin where we should in this group, with the greatest player that I’ve ever seen play in my lifetime (and probably has ever played). Britain has adopted Roger Federer since he defeated Mark Philippoussis for his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003. 16 big titles later and he’s still here entertaining and amazing us with his classy and elegant style of tennis. You only have to listen to the crowd at Wimbledon and at the O2 to discover how well-loved the Swiss superstar is. I particularly noticed this when he took on Djokovic in the semi-finals at SW19 this summer – the vast majority of the British fans were urging him across the line to beat the defending champion Novak. Now we have Murray to cheer for, he’s perhaps just slightly second fiddle. But against everyone else, it’s Roger all the way.

It won’t be any different this week as Federer tries to extend the record he already has by winning a 7th end of year title. He has broken records for fun throughout his career: most Grand Slams won, most weeks at number 1, won his first seven Slam finals and has played in 24 overall, reached 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, and the list goes in. It’s just phenomenal what he has done with his career. And, at the age of 31, he has no plans to stop anytime soon. Why would he, when he’s had such a successful year still?

Federer reached the semi-finals of both the Australian and French Open, won Wimbledon, and then was knocked out in the quarters at Flushing Meadows by Tomas Berdych in 2012. The final at SW19 was a hugely emotional affair, with Roger clearly delighted at winning another Grand Slam in what must have felt like a long time since he last did, and at his favourite event too. 7 times now, to equal Sampras. Also, his opponent, Murray, was mightily upset after coming so close on home soil. The 17-time Grand Slam champion added 5 other titles throughout the season and is consistently reaching the latter stages of tournaments but, towards the end of the year, he has struggled to convert that into titles. He was beaten comprehensively by Murray in the Olympic final and at Shanghai recently. A loss in the final of the Swiss Indoors to group opponent Juan Martin Del Potro won’t have done Roger much good either. Del Potro, despite holding a very one-sided winning record against him, has always given Federer some problems, like in the absolute marathon Olympic semi-final which the Swiss player finally prevailed in – winning the last set 19-17.

On the indoor hard court, though, Federer is pretty dominant. He has won the last two ATP World Tour Finals in London and we all saw how the game completely changed as soon as the roof went over Centre Court in the Wimbledon final. The court is quick, something he loves to exploit. He’s very much a “let’s speed through my service games” type of player. The game has gone before his opponent can even say “ace”. If he’s consistent with all his shots, and his serve is on the ball, it’ll be difficult for anyone to stop him. I’d say that recent form against Nole and Andy puts him as third favourite though to lift the trophy. Those two have stepped up past him movement-wise, but in the right type of game and on the right surface, Federer can blow them both away (as we saw at Wimbledon in the semis and final respectively). He’ll have the crowd on his side too against all the others except Murray and has a fantastic record against each of the players in his group, making him an almost cert for a place in the semi-finals. I think he’ll have to beat both the world number one and three to defend his title – but it’s Roger Federer: anything is possible.

Next up in this Group B is current world number five and grinder of the year, David Ferrer. Ferrer is one of the most dogged, energetic players on the Tour and this consistency has raised him to just behind the top 4 in the world. He perhaps doesn’t quite have the ability to kill off points that those 4 have – but being able to get hundreds and hundreds of balls back into play is one of the most pivotal skills to possess. The Spaniard is one of the most underestimated guys out there, probably due to being in the shadow of countryman Rafa Nadal. But his friend’s injury has allowed him to come out of his shell and really represent Spain in the tennis world.

His results have improved in 2012, as he has reached the last 8 or better at each of the four Grand Slams (the last 4 at the French and the US). The 30-year-old has won 6 titles this season – his best output in a season ever, showing that he certainly deserves his place amongst the elite in London. He has winning records over Del Potro and Tipsarevic, but has never beaten Roger Federer in 13 games. There’s always a first for everything though and I’m sure Federer will be very wary against that.

Man-mountain and fiery but friendly Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro is the third player that needs talking about. Things looked extremely promising back in 2009 when he lifted his first Grand Slam title in America. People thought he could push himself to the top of the game. Then, injury struck, effectively wiping 2010 out of the calendar. 2011 was disappointing for Del Potro, as he failed to reach the last 8 of any of the majors. This year, though, has been a step in the right direction. 4 tournament wins (Marseille, Estoril, Vienna and Basel) and 3 Grand Slam quarter finals. The win in Basel included a final victory over fellow Group B player Roger Federer, in which the Argentine proved too much for the Swiss maestro in a final set tie-break. He also picked up a bronze medal for his country at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Del Potro is one of this pack of players behind the top 4 that has a lot of power in his groundstrokes and a great serve, which are helping him to be where he is in the world rankings. But, movement is an issue due to the fact that he is 6 ft 6 and also his defensive capabilities. Consistency is his major issue of the past few years on the Tour. A gap does exist between him and the top 4. He’s still only young at 24 though, so could still improve in the future. He has the potential to get out of the group though and I think it could be a tight battle behind Federer for who qualifies for the semis. Getting a win over Ferrer on Tuesday would probably put one foot in a match on Sunday.

Finally, we have lucky world number nine Janko Tipsarevic, who has been afforded a place in the competition due to the fact that Rafa is sitting at home in Majorca. The sunglasses-wearing Serbian can be fairly considered to be the weakest of all the eight challengers, based on his achievement in the game so far. He has only reached two Grand Slam quarter finals (both in New York) and won just 3 ATP titles, including on the clay of Stuttgart in 2012. One of those last 8 appearances was at the most recent US Open and he managed to lose to David Ferrer despite being 4-1 in the final set. Janko has also only won 1 game against all three of his group opponents combined, so it could be a struggle.

Tipsarevic, who apparently admirably has a love of classic literature, debuted in the World Tour Finals last season and failed to get out of the round robin stage. But he’ll want to better that in his latest appearance in England’s capital. The Serb’s strengths include his movement and fitness, and his forehand should be effective on the fast indoor hard court at the O2. What lets him down is his slice and inconsistency. To win a game against the top 4 in the world at the moment, you can’t dish out many unforced errors at all during the entire match – you have to continually get the depth to your shots too.

It’ll be another fantastic occasion for the Serbian to be involved with and these experiences will only help him to improve in important situations in the future. He has nothing to lose going into London as the lowest ranked player so that might work to his advantage – the pressure is truly on Federer to win this group and book a place in the semis. Tipsarevic’s first game on Tuesday afternoon, against the Swiss, will show us how he is going to get on in these championships.

So, there are the elite eight of men’s tennis (bar Rafa) and it’s very tough to call at this stage. It’s going to be a thrilling week at the O2, with fans packing in to see the true greats of the game. Here’s the schedule for the first two days of singles competition:

Monday 5th November:
Andy Murray (3) v Thomas Berdych (5) (not before 1:45pm)
Novak Djokovic (1) v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7) (not before 7:45pm)
Tuesday 6th November:
Roger Federer (2) v Janko Tipsarevic (8) (not before 1:45pm)
David Ferrer (4) v Juan Martin Del Potro (6) (not before 7:45pm)

I’d be happy to say that the winner will come from those three of Djokovic, Murray and Federer. And a final with two of those three in is sure to be something special to end 2012 with.


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159 Comments for ATP World Tour Finals Guide: Elite Eight Out To Claim O2 Crown

Arun Says:

Roger only the 3rd favourite to win?You say that is because of his recent form but c’mon those matches were played outdoors!federer is still a notch above everyone else indoors.Id say he’s THE favourite to take the title. Murray and Berdych from Group A and Federer and JMDP from Group B will be the semifinalists i think.


Brando Says:

Dave has finally got some competition in matt.


jane Says:

Thanks for a very detailed analysis Matt! Looking forward to the matches, thought not sure how many I’ll actually be able to watch, alas.


skeezer Says:

Sean,

Where did you find this guy(Matt?)
Awesome, nice read, good stuff.


the_mind_reels Says:

While nothing in our sport is guaranteed (see this past week in Paris, for example), Federer is certainly favored to advance to the knock-out stage given the group he’s drawn. Meanwhile, I have to think that one of either Berdych or Tsonga will notch a win versus either Murray or Djokovic, meaning that only one of Murray or Djokovic will likely advance to the knock-out round. Again, nothing guaranteed, but Djokovic, for example, is 0-1 this year indoors, and both Berdych and Tsonga have won indoor titles this year and are top 10 indoors on the ATP’s reliability index.

“If anyone beats Djokovic to the title in London, it will be someone pretty special.”

I’m not convinced (in part because everyone playing in London could be considered “pretty special” by virtue of their ranking), but who knows — maybe I’ll eat my words.


Margot Says:

^ I agree. Surely everyone in the top 8,-10 in fact, is “pretty special?”


Margot Says:

Matt: really enjoyed that analysis. Keep writing.
Gr8 to see another Brit on tennisx too :)
Fed and JMDP from B. Who can tell from A? Depends which Andole turn up.


Wog boy Says:

Margot,

“Depends which Andole turns up,” that is about right:)


Dave Says:

At the World Tour Finals, I see Federer (if he is prepared) the favorite to win the title, Murray second, and Djokovic/Delpo joint third.

Most analyses on the World Tour Finals are flawed because general conclusions about performance results throughout the year – based mostly on 5 to 7 round pure knockout competition on various outdoor surfaces – are blindly applied to an indoor, top 10 year-end competition. As I explained in the other blog, the more important measures for the WTF are recent indoor results, recent top ten results and past WTF results. That’s why the greatest WTF champions Federer, Sampras, Lendl, Becker, McEnroe, Nastase were all great players in term of indoor titles won and beating top 10 players.

Even some of the ‘overall season arguments’ are flawed. Most analysts are quick to point out that Murray and Djokovic both beat Federer this year. What they don’t tell you is that Federer also beat Murray and Djokovic – his record with each is 2-2 – and that Federer’s match wins were more important in terms of higher ranking points won than his losses. As well, while Djokovic finishes this year No. 1 – it wasn’t a dominating finish but more by default as Federer practically surrended the No. 1 ranking by skipping Paris Masters, Canada Masters, Monte Carlo Masters and Beijing (maximum 3,500 points) in order to play Davis Cup (which the other big four players skipped) as well as invest too much effort into the Olympics.

Federer 2-2 Djokovic: Federer won the bigger battles this year in terms of ranking points at stake (Federer won Wimbledon semifinal and Cincinnati final which were worth 1,720 ranking points; Djokovic won French Open semifinal and Rome semifinal which were worth only 1,080 points).
- Cincinnati Masters final: Federer, 6-0, 7-6
- Wimbledon sf: Federer, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
- French Open sf: Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
- Rome Masters sf: Djokovic, 6-2, 7-6
In both clay events that Federer lost to Djokovic, Roger was nursing a hip injury from the blue clay of Madrid.
Cincinnati was Djokovic’s third consecutive week in a row of competition, though he benefitted from the puffball draw in Canada, Murray losing in Cincinnati before their expected semifinal encounter, and Novak’s tame losses at the Olympics (which allowed him to play Canada).

Federer 2-2 Murray: Federer won the bigger battles this year in terms of ranking points at stake (Federer won Wimbledon and Dubai finals which were worth 2,500 ranking points; Murray won Olympics final and Shanghai semifinal which were worth only 1,110 points).
- Shanghai Masters sf: Murray, 6-4, 6-4
- Olympics final: Murray, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
- Wimbledon final: Federer, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
- Dubai 500 final: Federer, 7-5, 6-4
If Murray comfortably wiped Roger off the court in Shanghai, then Federer comfortably wiped Andy off the court in Dubai (both matches were relatively similar in stats). Murray came into Shanghai with match practice from Tokyo and benefitted from an early walkover in Shanghai. Federer came into Shanghai looking rusty as well as distracted by serial death threats and also time-consuming negotiations regarding grand slam prize money (see article below).
At the Olympics final, Murray beat up a physically and emotionally exhausted Federer. 31-year old Federer’s record-breaking marathon epic semifinal against Delpo had more total games (58) and was just 3 total points less (366) than this year’s Australian Open final – and Federer/Delpo played much faster between points than Nadal/Djokovic did. Murray had benefitted from a quick straight-set semifinal over a surprising tame Djokovic who may have been more interested in saving his energy for the Canada Masters and regaining the No.1 ranking (Djokovic’s bronze medal match against Delpo was even tamer and faster than his match against Murray). Furthermore the British Psychological Society explained that Murray was inspired by the success of the other British Olympic athletes as well as patriotic home crowd support. And let’s not forget that, after losing the Wimbledon final, Murray resumed his practice just four days later while Federer still continued to vacation in Sardinia for another week, happy that his twin goals for the year (Wimbledon, No.1 ranking) were achieved. The Federer who played the Olympics was a level below the Federer who had played Wimbledon.

But we can throw away this analysis about Murray-Federer’s 2012 results when we realize that Federer’s biggest beatdown on Murray came at the 2010 WTF in London – it was even more lopsided in terms of relative points won and pace than this year’s Olympic final on grass. This is why we can’t blindly apply what happens in the rest of the outdoor season to the WTF.

Delpo is the only player who actually beat Federer on indoor hardcourts since 2010 Paris. Their indoor hardcourt record this year is 1-1 (Basel, Rotterdam). At the Swiss Indoors, Delpo playing his A-game barely beat a C+/B- Federer. It’s possible that Federer was distracted by his reputation being tarnished in his hometown by bad publicity over his future commitment to the Swiss Indoors and Davis Cup. In a few days, we’ll see from the Fed-Delpo match whether or not Roger has used the week off to prepare well for the World Tour Finals.

*****

One factor which has probably affected Federer’s performance on court occasionally has been his part-time job as president of the ATP Player Council since 2008. This article gives an idea what Federer has been doing for the players that has been a significant source of distraction, stress, mental exhaustion and burden on his time that Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and the other top players do not have to deal with. They can focus on their tennis more than Federer is able to.

‘ FEDERER TAKES ON ROLE AS BACKROOM POWER BROKER

… after leading the ATP Tour Player Council as president the last (five) years… Much of Federer’s behind-the-scenes work this year has focused on persuading the four majors to share a larger piece of the revenue pie with players. He has also lobbied that a larger percentage of prize money go to earlier rounds to rectify a growing income distribution gap…

Take his pre-tournament schedule last month at the Masters event in Shanghai. Under added security because of death threats, Federer arrived on a Friday and discussed strategy with ATP player and board representatives till about 1 a.m. He practiced the next morning, spent about 7 hours in meetings with various representatives of the Grand Slams and still attended the player party Saturday night. On Sunday evening, he hosted three hours of meetings in his hotel room with the Player Council, ATP executive staff, and U.S. Open executives — all before he struck a match ball.

“Roger has so many demands on his schedule and the fact that he is investing so much time into the player council and these negotiations shows his character and how much he cares for the future of the sport,” doubles specialist and council member Eric Butorac of the USA wrote in a recent email. “I believe it is very unprecedented to have a top player so involved.” ‘ Read the rest:
http://tinyurl.com/bhjpo58


Matt Says:

Thanks for the comments guys. Hope to write more for you to enjoy.

I understand what a couple are saying about them all being “special” tennis players. It’s not very clear sorry. I’m getting at the fact that there’s a distinction between the top 3 and the others. Federer is of course special. Djokovic too, Murray – probably yes. But after that there’s a gap. I wouldn’t class Berdych/Tsonga as special players – good yes, but not done enough in their careers to be considered special.

So, that’s what I’m saying – I think probably only Fed or Andy will beat Novak to the title. Of course, predictions aren’t the easiest though!


skeezer Says:

Dave,

Thanks for shining the light on Feds off court work for the game. Its mostly imo is un-noticed, un-appreciated, and undervalued in the Tennis game. Shame. He doesn’t have to do all that work for the game, who else does that is a current player?

“………shows his character and how much he cares for the future of the sport,”…

yep. Go Fed!


grendel Says:

Pleasing read, Matt. Personally, I don’t think you can take too seriously any opinings as to who is favourite, there are simply too many unknowns. What we can say legitimately, I think, is that if Federer recaptures his form, then on this surface he is favourite.

Yes, I remember all that stuff about Djokovic taking on British nationality. Talk about desperation, eh? The mind of the bureaucrat never fails to entertain, and when it is infused with a frustrated British patriotism, you arrive at a nonsense which a satirical writer would hesitate to get engaged with – he does have his reputation to consider, and a certain degree of realism is generally regarded as desireable….

I thought the Becker quote w.r.t.Djokovic -“It is always harder to defend points, to be the man hunted, than to be the hunter” – was apt. Djokovic, following his annus mirabilis, has had a steady, consolidating year, and I think he can be well pleased by it. Already, he is well on the way to being accepted as one of the alltime greats, and I expect another successful season. Tightly contested, though. There is no one, as of now, head and shoulders above anybody else right at the top.

Murray is the real enigma, and whilst I agree of course the O2 crowd will be right behind him I’m not sure if that will be good for him or not. Of him more than of any of the contenders one can say: anything can happen….In the coming year, my (totally unscientific) hunch is that Wimbledon will be the scene of Murray’s moment of glory.


Scineram Says:

This year:

Federer-Murray 2-2
Dokovic- Federer 2-2
Dokovic-Murray 3-3

So very balanced year.


Wog boy Says:

Did anyone see Boris Becker interview with ESPN (methinks) about GOAT and why he thinks that Federer is not GOAT. I am not trying to start debate again, I did agree that Federer is GOAT looking at the records, but Boris made few valid points regarding GOAT as such. I read it on the other site.
Before you charge at me, IMHO he is GOAT.


Nims Says:

Two people who should be least bothered about WTF are Roger and Novak. I believe Roger should just wind up for the season and spend time with his family and energize himself for 2013 season. He has achieved at Wimbledon which may go down as the greatest achievement in the open era. He should have winded up for the season just like Nadal did, rather than wasting time playing meaningless tournaments.

Same goes to Novak too. Once he knew his year end No 1 ranking is sealed, he should take rest and concentrate on next season. Also the low bouncing indoor courts are worst condition for Novak.

Murray and Del Po should be the best guys to show off this tournament. I wish we have the finals between these two.


the DA Says:

@nims – a Murray/Delpo final would suit me. They haven’t played since 2009 so I’d be very curious to see how they’d do.

fwiw, it was fantastic to hear Andy introduced as the Olympic and USO champion. Shame the music drowned out the crowd reaction.

Anyway, going into this match with no big hopes. A loss wouldn’t surprise, so a win would be a bonus.


jamie Says:

Apparently the wtf winner will be either Del Potro or Ferrer. LOL….


jamie Says:

Ferrer winning would be odd.

Del Potro the winner. Makes more sense….


jamie Says:

Murray will have to wait until Wimbledon 2013 to win a big title in London again…


grendel Says:

Berdych is 5-2, and playing quite magnificently – Murray started off well enough, but is now being overpowered. I do believe that when Berdych is absolutely on song, he will always be favourite to beat touch players like Murray and Federer. Fortunately for them, Berdych is wildly inconsistent. I guess that must be Murray’s hope in this match.


jamie Says:

Federer has never won 3 wtf in a row. Not even during his prime. He’s not doing it at 31…

He won wtf in 2003-2004, 2006-2007, 2010-2011. I see a trend.


Brando Says:

DAMN- just what i feared is panning out!

Berdych has always been a tough opponent for Andy and i thought Andy might struggle today- and he is.

Tomas was actually playing well enough to beat Andy at USO had he not bothered too much about the wind.

There his inconsistency got the better off him- here’s hoping today is the same!


grendel Says:

Well, well. Berdych takes the 1st – but, what a struggle he had to serve it out. Aided by a bit of luck, too, as Murray’s final ball clipped the net which sent it just long – otherwise a clear winner for Murray.
This is turning out to be a great contest, and Murray as ever has you hopping first on one foot and then on the other as you struggle to make sense of what’s going on. At the moment, anything could happen it seems to me – but, Berdych looked very tight indeed at the death of the first set. This may yet help Murray.


the DA Says:

Andy is 0-7 on break points, not good. Although Berdy hit huge serves to save 5 of them. Still time to turn it round but not hopeful right now.


jamie Says:

No wind here…


Brando Says:

@MMT:

Thanks. Becker has made some VALID points there.

He is NOT knocking fed down at all, BUT IF one looks at the points he makes with an open mind, then one can see Boris’s argument.

As Boris HIMSELF mentions, look at the record book= Fed is GOAT!

BUT the point he makes are nonetheless valid. Not criticism’s at all, but VALID OBSERVATION from a former player whose viewpoint does have some credibility to it.


the DA Says:

@ jamie – no wind in Dubai either.

Murray just saved more BPs by stepping up the aggression and sneaking into the net to finish points. Hint: perhaps you should try this tactic more Andy.


grendel Says:

Hm, Murray faced 3 break points, and got out of the 1st with a lovely touch volley, cleverly engineered. The 2nd, Berdych gave the ball the old whackeroo down the line, do or die it was – and for Berdych it was die – just. And the 3rd, a great one two on serve. Murray closed the game out with some special Murray skill – none better in the world at the moment – but his 2nd serve is a cause for anxiety. Luckily, Berdych (normally lethal) sometimes gives him a reprieve, hard to say why. Is there just a touch of the lack of killer instinct here?


the DA Says:

Finally, on the 11th BP Andy is gifted with the break. Hold now!


Brando Says:

needs to consolidate, come on andy!


the DA Says:

Yes, he consolidates. He’s hitting the ball more purposefully now.


grendel Says:

Murray breaks with some quite scintillating tennis, especially one great bh defence from the corner, Berdych then sends him to the other side and stretching his torso to the limits Murray somehow not just gets racket on ball but sends to the opposite corner for an unplayable winner. Berdych came back from 0-40, but it was too much in the end. This is vintage Murray, and near vinatge berdych. Great stuff.


Brando Says:

that drop shot was top draw stuff from muzza


Brando Says:

Have to say, post FO Muzza’s shots seem to have alot more power behind them. His serve, at least, has alot more pop on it.


Brando Says:

135 mph ace from muzza… nice to see


Brando Says:

important hold there by andy, 5-2 up


RZ Says:

Anyone know who the alternate is? Based on ranking it should be Gasquet as #1 alternate and Almagro as #2. But I haven’t seen confirmation of that anywhere. I know for doubles Fleming-Hutchins will be the alternate team as the Poles chose not to go to London.


the DA Says:

Tight game there but Andy prevails with some great serves. I think the serve is getting more consistent as the match goes on. Whether or not he loses this, it’s important to get a set.


the DA Says:

It’s Gasquet. He’s im the audience.


grendel Says:

Great serving game for Murray pulls him through a diffciult game. Actuslly, Murray’s serve is inconsistent today, just goes to show that the serve is still a weapon if you can pull it out when you badly need it – as Murray for sure did to go 5-3 up.


grendel Says:

sorry, 5-2 up. Yes Murray notched a 135. JJ was consistently pulling out 140 pluses yesterday, and one over 151!


jamie Says:

Murray peaks at slams.


skeezer Says:

Interesting how the game has evolved (aka this match) how ROS can dictates match. You’d better serve real well.


the DA Says:

Andy takes the 2nd set.


Brando Says:

what a bullet serve that one was to bring set point


Brando Says:

Got to say, in terms of natural raw power. Berdych is in a league of his own.

It’s so effortless for him to bash the ball deep with power behind it.

And he is hardly ever injured too- very impressive!


the DA Says:

Now his serve is off the boil again. sigh


the DA Says:

@brando – I agree. I can’t think of anyone who hits it with such power and makes it look effortless.


skeezer Says:

Very hard fought battle going on


jane Says:

the DA, the good news is that Tomas’ serve is off the boil as well! Murray with two bps, now…


the DA Says:

Berdy overcooks a FH and Andy has the break. Wish it was 5-4 instead of 2-1. I fear a few more twists.


skeezer Says:

If Murray wins this, he totally earned it. He put in some hard yards at in the end of the first and through the second. The guy is really fit.


the DA Says:

@jane – yes, and may it continue for at least one more game ;) When it’s on, it’s a fearsome thing.


racquet Says:

I liked the way Andy dictated those last few points. C’mon!!


the DA Says:

Hello serve, welcome back!


Brando Says:

WOW, is this a 1st in tennis recently:

POST USO win for Andy, his last 3 losses-

1- Raonic, SF in Japan Open (had 2 MP)
2- Djokovic, RU in Shanghai (5 MP)
3- Janowicz, r32 in Paris (1 MP)

LAST 3 LOSSES- ALL WITH MPS!

NEVER seen this instance happen before! Kind of underlines how tough Muzza is to beat nowadays, as he seems to be consistently in the match with a chance to win!

Demands ALOT from the opponent to beat him nowadays does Andy- i like it!


racquet Says:

Yikes, he’s going to have to serve it out. Nerves jangling.


the DA Says:

@ brando – thanks for reminding us as he’s about to serve it out!! :P


Brando Says:

@the DA:

LOL, i know. :-)

I’m confident though.


the DA Says:

Whew, I thought it was going to happen again! Yes.

Certain posters take note: there was no wind. :)


Brando Says:

Thank god, for that!

Phew!

Really thought Andy was suffering from matchpointitis when he missed that first serve on the 2nd MP!

phew again!!!


racquet Says:

That roar said it all. Very important win. Andy will be able to play a little more freely in the next two matches.


jane Says:

Congrats to Andy! :))


Brando Says:

@the DA:

wind for some, wet court for others, roof on a court for a select few etc- rarely do you find a satisfied critic in tennis!


Brando Says:

‘Andy will be able to play a little more freely in the next two matches.’

Yep, agree with thst.

Berdych, for me, was always more tricky than say Jo Tsonga as a matchup here.

Andy is DEFINITELY in a nice position now.


racquet Says:

Interesting stat: Andy hit 36 winners compared to Berdy’s 28. Anytime he’s hitting more winners than Tomas is a good sign.


alison Says:

When i came home from work,seeing Andy lose the 1st set i was fearing the worst,with Berdych its always a 50/50 match,so im so pleased this one went his way,he has the champions mentality that positive mind set now,even when not playing their best these players find a way through,good luck Andy in your next match.


Sienna Says:

I miss Nadal. I think he gave Fed his thirst and hunger. He could find it for WImbly and olympics but after that it all has died away a litle.

Fed needs some serious challenge in order to get back with the programme.
I hope he brings his A game this tounrey otherwise he is not gonna qualify for the final.

I doubt if Nova and Andy can motivat him like Nadal did for those years. And on the longrun I hope he still finds the edge or urge to motivate himself to play at the highest level.


Margot Says:

Phew! So glad that one’s over. Big Bird is a very tough customer.
Andy’s first serve % was awful in the first set but as it improved, so did his game, surprise…not. Hope his nerves are now settled, he was tight serving that out- a double, ouch, heart sank, but all’s well. :)
Lets’s Go Andy! Let’s Go!


racquet Says:

Another telling stat: this was Andy’s 12th win after being a set down this year (tied w/Federer). Another component in the narrative of his 2012.


racquet Says:

@ margot

hehe, I thought of you during that DF. My language turned very blue at that moment. :)

Now I really hope Nole wins tonight if not for selfish reasons. That way he and Andy would play their (potential) mega-match on Wednesday. That would give them to recover. It would be better than battling it out so close to the SFs.


MMT Says:

I hate to say, “I told you so,” but…I told you so. This match went almost exactly as I expected, although it took longer for Murray to get a hold of the match than I expected.


Wog boy Says:

MMT,

Thanks, yes, that is the one.


grendel Says:

Had to push off, but I recorded the last set. Really, it was worth it. Murray was hitting the ball sweetly and looked pretty impressive to me. One thing, at 15-15 in the final game, Murray hit a soft fh to Berdych, right in his hitting zone so far as I could see, and Berdych did indeed go for it, but hit it long. Is it possible that Murray was luring Berdych? Or did he just get lucky? After all, as everyone is saying, Berdych is just about the cleanest hitter on the tour. Perhaps, after all, it was just Murray being tentative at the death – he was soft pedalling somewhat in that last game. Generally speaking, though, he seems to me now to have a nice aggressive game. As racquet says, he scored a lot more winners than Berdych, and that’s remarkable. Or perhaps it isn’t any more. And Murray’s now established aggression is not in the least at the expense of his defence, which is as good as ever. He’s coming right into his prime, isn’t he – next year is an exciting prospect.

MMT

You know, I was going to allude to your post on the other thread anyway, even if you hadn’t posted here. You did get it absolutely right. Quite awesome. Just hope Murray losing 1st set won’t be detrimental – as he pointed out to Petchey in post match interview, he’s won 2 here before and still got knocked out.


Brando Says:

I cannot say for certain BUT i think Andy was 100% on points won when 1st serve was made in the 3rd set!

Keep that up and this week will be a good one for muzza!:-)


alison Says:

Hopefully Brando hopefully.


Brando Says:

Becker picks Muzza or Nole for WTF in this short interview- a very good one!

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Media/Videos/Uploaded/2012/11/4/London-Finale-2012-Sunday-Feature-Becker.aspx

Personally, I pick FED, for following:

1- Well rested
2- Really nice draw
3- Pedigree
4- IF game is firing, still the BEST on indoor


Wog boy Says:

In that interview with ESPN, full version, Becker had an interesting idea, he would like to see Federer and Nadal playing each other with a woden racquets:)


Brando Says:

@WB:

LOL, that would be fun!

I miss fedal matches, ESPECIALLY @ Wimbledon.

Don’t care much (well actually i do, but regardless of it) who wins, i’d like another high quality Wimbledon match between these 2 and one also at the USO before they retire or are on a terminal decline in their tennis career.

I LOVE FEDAL matches- and i think MOST sport fans also do so!


the DA Says:

hmm, Berdych posted the following on his FB page after the match:

“So, Andy won today…I know …don’t tell me anything”

Czech wry humour? A bit supercilious? hard to tell.

Anyway, on to the next match. Nole/Tsonga warming up. Predictions? I think Nole in 2.


racquet Says:

I have to say, the doubles match between the Bryans and Lopez/Granollers was spectacular. The Spanish duo pulled off the upset. The Bryans were typically grumpy at losing and didn’t shake Lars Graff’s hand.


trufan Says:

I am a big becker fan, but sometimes he just mouths off without making sense.

That statement about playing with wooden rackets – then what about Nadal? Perhaps Nadal would be more adversely affected than Federer if we were to switch to wooden rackets overnite.

This is like saying – Would Federer have beaten Vilas in Soccer? Doesn’t matter, its irrelevant.

To the extent a sport evolves due to technology, all anyone can do is to beat the competition in front of them. And there is no doubt that tennis today is far more competitive than what it was 30 years ago. So many more countries actively promote tennis today than 30 years ago, so many more players play tennis today than 30 years ago. Its even acquired a serious place in the Olympics in the last decade – it wasn’t even considered an Olympic sport then.

Its like asking – would Borg or Mcenroe have beaten Federer or Nadal had they been playing today???

These are irrelevant questions that are impossible to answer. Raising them is foolish.

Becker has had a lot of Pecker trouble in his career (I really believe that’s what kept him from greatness). He had a lot of talent. I think he should keep quiet not to lose any more respect of his fans.


Brando Says:

@the DA:

Nole in 2 also, other than a 5 set win in AO in 2010, Tsonga has NOT beaten Nole for over 3 years!

Nole beat him recently in straights in the china open final too.


the DA Says:

Maybe it’s just me but this court looks to be playing incredibly slow.


skeezer Says:

@trufan

Yeah I was gonna say something. Becker was creating “what if” scenarios, but the facts are in the records. I think if the criteria was on playing with wood rackets ( as an example ) then they would have made it so. Fact is he has all time records, Borg, Mac, etc don’t. No matter what ERA. I like and respect Becker too, would like to think it was more of a “what if” scenario than a judgement on wether Fed is GOAT or not. Regardless, Becker is in the minority of GOAT opinions.


skeezer Says:

The courts do seem slow…i mean for indoors…


alison Says:

Just hope Jo can keep it competitive,hopefully it wont be a beatdown,Nole almost had his serve broken in the 1st game,but managed to come through,now hes settled finding his rythum,this will be the thing for Jo taking his chances if or when he gets them.


Brando Says:

Re court: very slow for indoors.

Also thought Paris was a bit slower this year in comparison to previous years.


the DA Says:

Tsonga looks impressive so far – he has come to play. Nole also strong.


Margot Says:

Lol racquet wouldn’t be Andy if he didn’t give us “eye shutting,” “ear blocking” moments, would he?


alison Says:

Both are playing great tennis so far,very nice competitive stuff,nice to watch from a neutral point of view,with nothing emotionally invested,i can just relxax and enjoy the match.


alison Says:

^should be relax.^


alison Says:

Could be possible that one or two points here and there,decide which way this set goes,the smallest of margins decide these matches sometimes.


the DA Says:

Nasty tumble by Nole. This is a quality match.


racquet Says:

Novak seems a little flat, even though he’s managing to keep his serve. I wonder is dad is on his mind?


Brando Says:

Agree with Barry Cowan- Novak is playing average, so if he wins this set he wins the match.

Poor play by Jo on first 2 points in this breaker.

Erratic!


Polo Says:

Good job, Novak.


Brando Says:

well there we go!

Jo has an an uphill battle on his hands now.

Like him, I don’t think he’ll pull it off at all


Polo Says:

Becker’s words have always been overrated. The media treats him like he is some kind of a wizard whose every word is full of wisdom.


Polo Says:

By the way, who takes Murray’s place now as the best tennis players who has never won a slam?


grendel Says:

Tsonga made the chances and played the better tennis. Djokovic hung on, sometimes grimly, until the tiebreak. This, he played with quiet purpose -always alert, he never for an instant looked like not winning it. That’s a champion for you. Even so, it was risky – fact is, Tsonga should have broken.

Assuming Djokovic wins, the question is: is he pacing himself? Or is he just not especially comfortable? No way of telling. But the answer, for anyone in the know, will tell you if he’s likely to win the tourney.


grendel Says:

@Polo 5.25

Nalbandian? Berdych is a possibility, but of course he could still win one.


Polo Says:

Berdych is very capable of winning a major. He still seems to be lacking in self-confidence when he plays the top 4 guys in a major event. He has to have the nerve to face and beat them back to back.


Brando Says:

‘He still seems to be lacking in self-confidence when he plays the top 4 guys in a major event. ‘

He beat federer in the last slam played- USO.

So maybe he is turning the corner mentally speaking!


alison Says:

Polo interesting the none GS GOAT lol,i would love it to be Daveed Ferrer,but its purely subjective i suppose,i would really love to hear Grendel and Daves take on that one?


alison Says:

Brando Berdych also beat both Nole and Fed at Wimby two years ago,as well as Muzza at the FO,dont like the guy but hes a great player on all surfaces.


Brando Says:

@Alison:

Good point you make Alison re Berdych.

He’s done pretty well against top 4, IMO, when compared to some of the other players.


trufan Says:

Polo,

Nobody is even close to taking Murray’s place as the best bridesmaid. Murray was 0-4 in slam finals, a record (tied), until he won his 5th final.

Of the current crop – Berdych, MAYBE? But nobody is even close.

As for courts – Ferrer winning Paris shows it can’t be too fast a surface. The brits may have slowed down the O2 court a bit to favor Murray – defense is still very important in Murray’s game, so a blazing fast surface will always mean he is in trouble.

Djoke seems to be rolling over Tsonga now – has won 6 of the last 9 games!


alison Says:

Quite a dissapointing second set after such a competitive first set,Tsongas just fallen apart.


Polo Says:

To win a major, any outsider has to have the ability and the guts to beat two of the top 4 guys, and do it back to back. That is really a very formidable task. It is like they have to keep from blinking for two straight days.


trufan Says:

Also, there’s a HUGE void coming soon, at the top of the men’s game. Federer is 31, Ferrer is 30, Berdych, Tsonga are both 27, Nadal is 26. Even Murray and Djoke are 25. Couple of years from now, None of them may be winning slams.

Hope some new guy steps in. Tomic has disappointed so far. So has Raonic. Delpo is the only hope. Perhaps JAnowicz???


alison Says:

If Daveed had won a slam this year he would have been the best player this year with 7 titles,as it stands hes the best player this year without a slam,what a great year for Daveed.


trufan Says:

I am rooting for Ferrer to reach the semi (second place – I want Fed to be on the top!!), then somehow win the semi to face Federer in the final.

Ferrer will then be seeded No. 4 at the AO!!


racquet Says:

Well, Nole sure picked up his level in the 2nd set. Some amazing returning and gets. So he’ll meet Andy on Wednesday.


Brando Says:

‘a blazing fast surface will always mean he is in trouble.’

YEP, SO TRU!

Thank god they SLOWED down Cincinnati, Shanghai, Rotterdam, Flushing Meadows etc.

OTHERWISE how on earth can Andy win on those surfaces?


Brando Says:

‘I am rooting for Ferrer to reach the semi (second place – I want Fed to be on the top!!), then somehow win the semi to face Federer in the final.

Ferrer will then be seeded No. 4 at the AO!!’

Like a true NADAL WELL WISHER!

VAMOS TRUFAN, VAMOS!


alison Says:

Jo will rue those missed chances to break in that 1st set.


Polo Says:

Does is seem fair to say that of the top 4, Federer and Nadal appear to the two who would be first to fall off the top 4? It looks like del Potro is ready to take one of those spots. And based on what most of you have expressed, Berdych may be the other guy.


racquet Says:

Soderling is worth a mention as he has been a slam finalist twice. The only thing is, his titles are few (10) and he only has one Masters.


racquet Says:

^^ sorry, in the greatest not to win a major discussion, not who will fill the gap. Hopefully, he’ll get over the mono and return.


Brando Says:

@polo: seems fair to me. One is 31 and the other is on a 6 month injury break- so likely candidates moreso than a 25 year old world no.1 and another 25 y/o who is enjoying the best 6 months of his career! STILL fedal can change things around- who’s to say that they won’t be no. 1 and 2 at the end of 2013? The maths doesn’t exactly make that look like an improbable notion!


alison Says:

Brando LMAO,i only look for my favorite to succeed not for their rivals to fail,not saying it wouldnt be great for Ferrer to get that number 4 ranking,but it would be nice if people actually wanted him to do it on merit,or because they like him,rather than having some ulterior motive about Rafa and the AO draw.


jane Says:

“racquet Says:
Well, Nole sure picked up his level in the 2nd set. Some amazing returning and gets. So he’ll meet Andy on Wednesday.”

Nice to read this: couldn’t watch, but peeked at scores a little bit. The first set looked tight!
Phew. Intense battles already in this group. So is it Tsonga/Berd, Nole/Andy next then?


Brando Says:

@Alison: I know, BUT petty tennis fans have petty wishes, unfortunately.


alison Says:

Brando yep so true.


racquet Says:

There’s an interesting little piece on Tsonga’s hiring of Rasheed. It looks like he’s serious about doing something to take that next step and break into the top 4.

http://www.thetennisspace.com/guy-forget-on-tsonga-and-rasheed/

@ Jane

As far as I know, it will be Tsonga/Berd, Nole/Andy next.


jane Says:

Thanks racquet.:)

BTW, for Wog boy & other Nole fans, he was awarded for the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award as well as getting the #1 player award. Nice.

All the other winners here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2012/11/Features/ATP-Awards-2012.aspx


Brando Says:

Very good and ideal pick for tsonga. Rasheed is the right pick for him IMO!


alison Says:

Congrats to Nole and Roger on their awards.


Wog boy Says:

Who ever remembers times when Roger Rasheed worked with Hewitt, Monfils will know that the first thing that will be noticeable on Tsonga in a few months time will more muscles, does he need them. I don’t think so. Try to find a pictures of Hewitt when he worked with Rasheed. Rasheed is fitness junkie.
I don’t know how is it going to work with Tsonga, he looks to me like a strongminded person, we will see.

I almost forgot, good job NO1E:)


grendel Says:

alison – I think your post at 5.57 accounts exactly for the disappointment expressed in your post at 5.49 By the way, may I say how much I admire the concise way you often get to the heart of the matter?

Rusedski or Peter Fleming, can’t remember, made the point that Tsonga is somehow selecting the wrong shot in the critical moments – and that is something to work on with his new coach Roger Rasheed. But maybe it’s a psychiatrist he needs. Doesn’t make sense to me that a player knows instinctively what stroke to use in what circumstances except the very circumstance which counts the most. Surely that is a mental problem? Maybe, though, he can address the issue with his coach.

But one would assume, alison, that Tsonga was absolutely gutted with his failure to close out. Since he is to a degree an inspirational player, where are the reserves for him to draw upon to fight back? If Tsonga had taken his chances, you’d have seen a very different player in the 2nd set. I don’t say he would have won, but he’d have made a battle of it for sure.

I think Djokovic understood this very well, which is why he was so determined to win the 1st set even though he was clearly not very comfortable. His resolution was admirable.


jamie Says:

Franzua predicts Federer to win the WTF.

*yawn*


jamie Says:

I wonder who Federer will beat in the final this time?

*yawn*


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Thanks for that, I am sure it means lot to Nole and he is going to cherish that one. He loves and enjoys what he does for kids, good on him.


jamie Says:

This is what Federer is wearing.

http://www.rogerfedererfans.com/forum/uploads/monthly_06_2012/post-751-0-39242600-1339736888_thumb.jpeg

Federer is the only player that can win tournaments wearing purple/pink!


trufan Says:

In his recent interview in London, Fed hinted on trying to get the No. 1 ranking back the AUS Open! Man, that guy is motivated.

He is 31, come on. Even a fan like me now believes he will never get to No. 1 again. AUS open is a slow surface, he ain’t winning it.

But good to see him believing. He even hinted on playing a full schedule next year – which I think would be a mistake…. Any injury at this stage and that’s his last tournament. Why play Dubai, Rotterdam etc? Just play the 4 slams, 7 masters (skip Shanghai), Halle (to prepare for Wimbledon), Basel (his home tournament), and London (hopefully he qualifies) – that’s 14 tournaments, with many periods of month long rest in between.


jamie Says:

@Brando

no. 1 and 2 at the end of 2013? NOLANDY.


jamie Says:

AO winner will be either Murray or Djokovic. Del Potro will also have a great AO.

Fedal won’t be a factor(finals) at HC slams anymore.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Federer and Nadal don’t even reach the SF of the AO.


alison Says:

Thanks Grendel i appreciate that,i like both Novak and Jo,although i am not a fan of either(if that makes any sense),so thats why i would have loved to see two players in 2 or 3 competitive sets,as a neutral i have nothing to lose no emotional investment,when its one of my favorites however its a totally different story,the easier and more straight forward that the match is the better,even if its a 6 0 6 1 beatdown,i have to say how much i actually admire your posts and how you always manage to use such perfect analysis.


alison Says:

Really cute picture of Nole with all those little kids.


racquet Says:

@ Jane

btw, I’ve just seen that the Nole/Andy match is scheduled for the afternoon session on Wednesday. This is completely baffling to me, surely their match qualifies as primetime? Oh well.


jane Says:

^ Definitely racquet. :/ So who is primetime – Tsonga/Berd?


racquet Says:

@ jane

Yes. Crazy huh?


Daniel Says:

Trufan,

If Fed wins WTF without losing any match (+1500 pts) and wins Doha next year and Djoko win only two matches (reaching semis in WTF) and loses AO title, Fed is #1 again if he defend his semis points. Not very unlikelly scnerio. Doko can lose to Murray, qualify second adn loses the semis to Fed in London. Fed winning Doha, quit possible and Djoko not defending AO title again quit possible. That’s why Fed hinted, because he knows that after AO heonly have a chance again on clay if he plays MC, where Djoko defends a bunch of final points. It will all depends on Fed winning his 3 matches and Murray beating Djoko on Wednesday. Any match Djoko loses from now on and the rankings will be in jeopardy. And don’t forget Murray is on a mission to be #1 next year. From the moment Nadal was sidelined he benefited the most. Nadal was the player who as holding Murray back, becaise he always beleive heis equal to Novak and he always had the positive HxH against Roger to motivate him, even with the Slam losses. But against Nadal Murray looked clueless sometimes. Is kind of the player he respected, fear the most. Once Nadal got out of the picture he only have to focus on beating Fed in a bg match, done it in Olympics and Djoko, proved it in US Open.


Daniel Says:

Wow, Fed had 57% of fan vote and Murray got second. Him winning Olympics and US Open attarcted a lot of fans, kind of he was due for a long time. Hope he keeps the momentum going.


TJ Says:

LOL! all of the other guys’ fans put together are not even close!

57 – 43. no wonder you see them all ganging up against fed and his fans. otherwise, they dont even have a chance :)

murray is 2nd? WTF! ahead of djokovic? I guess too much of anti-serb vote!

djokovic has definitely got much more game and personality than murray.


skeezer Says:

@Daniel

Link please?


dari Says:

Well, fed legion is mighty, we all know that! and I am happy that Murray came second. I think he is just so under-appreciated fan- and personality-wise. Hopefully he has moreBIG wins and that changes. Love that guy


Alok Says:

@TJ: I read on another site some fans telling others to vote several times, using different email addresses. It wasn’t a Fed fan who gave out the advice. hehe


Polo Says:

Murray placed second to Federer on the power of his performance in Wimbledon, the emotional interview partion. Novak is admired by many but he seems to be tbe most divisive of the top 4.


skeezer Says:

@Alok

Yeah saw that too. It didn’t matter, did it? Lol…..!!!

Fed GOAT

#WhosBad


skeezer Says:

Where was Rafa in all the voting? What, the thrill is gone with fans?


skeezer Says:

“Defending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champion Federer continues his domination in two categories respectively selected by his peers and fans, taking his total to 24 ATP World Tour Awards since 2003. The 31-year-old Swiss collects the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the eighth time, and extends his reign as the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by RICOH to a record 10th straight year.”

Nothing to add there. Fed is undeniably special. It will be a very long time until we see the likes of this talented special tennis player again.

———–

Congrats to Nole for his award also, second year at #1!!!! its only just begun….


Margot Says:

Brando @ 5.54
Lol u r on fire :)
I used to love watching Racheed’s face during Monfils’ matched. He used to wear a permanent WTF expression.
I’m not sure exchanging one “wild”, player for another is a good move.
I’m using “wild” as a compliment here,love watching both. Also, another of Racheed’s pupils, Hewitt lacked power so he had to use his brain in matches. M and T have so much power, not sure the brain is engaged as much as it should be sometimes…. ;)
Watching with interest :)


wilfried Says:

@Daniel
imo Roger Federer doesn’t even need to win Doha to regain the no 1 spot next year, because in the scenario that you sketched (with Roger winning WTF and Djokovic only winning 2 RR matches) the points gap between the two of them reduces to 855 points instead of the current 1955 points gap. Moreover if Roger improves his 2012 Doha SF result and reaches the “Doha finals” in january next year, the points gap will further reduce to 795 points (provided that Djokovic doesn’t play any tournaments before the AO).
With such a limited points gap between him and Federer, Djokovic can’t afford to lose the AO title.


wilfried Says:

@Daniel
Need to correct my comment and agree with your observation, Daniel.
Reaching the DOHA finals won’t be enough to dethrone Novak, because Roger’s Halle points will drop. Therefore the points gap will only reduce with the difference between hiRoger Halle points (150 points) and his new Doha point. Winning DOha would gain Roger an additional 100 ranking points (250 – 150 Halle points), and reduce the gap to 755 points before the start of the AO 2013.


Daniel Says:

wilfried,

I am a Fed fan but likes Djoko a lot. It’s strange have to cheer against him, for Fed to have mor eglory days:)

It’s like Djoko’s game is perfection stroke wise, I just try to mimic his backhand (2 hander myself) and everytime time he plays to me is tennis lesson.
Fed is in a league of his own that I don’t even try to go there. But I incorporate his and Nadal’s forehand when they hit the ball with the arm fully straight, and a Davydenko kind of hitting the ball in the face when I want to hit a flat powerfull forehand. Plus, I do the Fed chest thing a few times when aproaching the net. LOL

So, tomorrow have to cheer for Murray, for Djoko to avoid gain more points.


Archana Says:

if rafa s not playing there’s nothing exciting to watch…

Top story: Meet Mr. And Mrs. Novak Djokovic!
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ATP - Jul 21 WTA - Jul 21
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
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6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
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