The Reuters global sports blog
Watch out for Federer in 2012
By Greg Rusedski
There was a lot going on in the press at The ATP World Tour Finals before the event started. The press asked Roger Federer who was the favorite for the event. The press had implied that Andy Murray was the favorite because of the three tournaments he had won in Asia. Federer answered this question by saying that neither he nor Novak Djokovic had played in Asia so how could he be the favorite? Federer came into this event having won the last two tournaments of the year, this event on five different occasions and also as the defending champion. This set up the tournament in a great way because the only way to settle this discussion would be on the court.
The two groups were Group A; Djokovic, Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych and Group B; Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Group B was the more interesting and stronger group.
Federer cruised through his group and won all three matches. Nadal looked in great shape but unfortunately had stomach problems and had to run off court at 2-0 up on Fish in the third set of his first round match to have a washroom break. He ended up winning the match, but looked drained after the match and did not recover to win another match in his group. Fish was a debutant at only 29 and did not win a match, but played well. On the other hand, Tsonga played great and beat Nadal and Fish to qualify for the semi-finals with Federer.
Murray limped out of the event after his match against Ferrer. He was up a break in both sets, but throughout the match you could see him pulling at his groin. He received treatment after the first set and was moving much better, but still decided that he could not continue with his groin strain. This allowed the alternate Janko Tipsarevic into the tournament which meant there would be two Serbian men in the end of season championships for the first time.
With Murray pulling out, Federer could regain the number 3 world ranking if he made the finals. Ferrer continued with his good form and beat Djokovic in the next match to qualify for the semi-finals. Djokovic said this was the worst match he’s played all season, which it was. This put pressure on Djokovic because he had to beat fellow countryman Tipsarevic to qualify for the semi-finals or hope that Ferrer beat Berdych. Things didn’t work out for Djokovic, and Berdych beat Ferrer in three sets to qualify top of the group. This meant Federer would play Ferrer in one semi-final and Tsonga would play Berdych in the other.
Federer won his match against Ferrer to reclaim his number three world ranking. He also had the opportunity to tie Lendl with the most number of wins at this event with 39 if he had won. Federer also made his 100th ATP Tour final, another amazing milestone.
In the other semi-final Tsonga played great and beat Berdych in two sets to get to the finals. Tsonga was trying to become the first French man to win this event. A part of me wanted Tsonga to win because we need a new superstar in men’s tennis. With Tsonga’s charisma, look, and tennis style he could become a global superstar if he could win this event and follow that up with a major in 2012.
Unfortunately for Tsonga, in the finals Federer found a way in the third set after getting tight at key moments in the second set. Tsonga showed us great belief in the second set by breaking Federer when he served for the match and by saving a match point in the tie-breaker. Federer lifted his game in the third set and found a way, as a great champion does, to win in three sets. He continues to break records and by winning his 70th title he became the first man to win this event six times.
Watch out for Federer in 2012. It looks like there might be a 17th major coming up very soon for Roger.