Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ATP World Tour Finals: Finale

Roger Federer ended his year the way he started it, on top. Federer defeated his arch-rival and year-end no. 1 Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Final 6-3 3-6 6-1 for his 5th year-end title and 66th title overall. He also slightly improves his lopsided H2H record against the Spaniard to 8-14, 3-0 on indoor hardcourts.

Federer played flawlessly and, more importantly, aggressively throughout the match using his serve and, shockingly, his backhand to great effect. Nadal was able to change the pace in the second set forcing Federer to become more defensive, but it was all Federer and his attacking game in the final set. It was a virtuoso performance from a player many thought were down and out especially against the opponent he was facing.

After winning his 16th Grand Slam title at the beginning of the year in Australia, it seemed like Federer was going to have another great year. Unfortunately for him, not only did he not win another title until August, but he crashed out in the quarterfinals at the French Open and Wimbledon. Since Wimbledon, however, he put up a magnificent 35-4 record (21-2 post-US Open) capturing four titles including the year-end championships. In fact, in an odd quirk, all five of his titles this year came at different levels (Grand Slam, World Tour Final, Masters 1000, ATP 500, and ATP 250).

Don't feel too bad for Nadal. Even if Federer had double-bageled him, Nadal is still the undisputed player of the year, winning seven titles including three of the four Grand Slams. Plus relative to his performance at the World Tour Finals last year, when he went 0-3 in the RR matches, reaching the finals and taking a set off a fiery Federer is cause for much celebration to him and his camp.

Both men, as has been the case for the past 5-6 years now, will look to dominate again in 2011. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, who both couldn't even win a set against either Federer or Nadal at the year-end championships, are still looking in from the outside. Djokovic probably had the excuse of being distracted by the upcoming Davis Cup finals against France, but Murray's continued hometown troubles may be cause of concern.

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