Monday, November 29, 2010

Roger Federer - The ATP World Tour Finals Champion

Roger Federer is the greatest ever player to have played Tennis in this planet. However, he is also human and mid-year slump started to become a worry. Fans and critics were equally worried if he would ever be able to beat Nadal. This doubt was partially cleared when Federer demolished Nadal with high quality Tennis at London O2 last night to lift the ATP world tour finals crown for the record equaling fifth time.

The most important feature of this achievement of Federer is that he was unbeaten in the whole event and in the process defeated 5 of the top 8 in the world. Except Nadal, no one could even steal a set from him. The manner in which he thumped quality players like Murray, Soderling and Djokovic  in straight sets was indeed a great sight. Nadal was in terrific form this season winning 3 grand slams and it took a special effort from the master to derail him in the last match of the season.

The title for Federer would surely keep him in good shape for defending his Australian open crown early next year. He was very aggressive in the whole tournament and used his backhand slice sparingly but effectively. The vintage Federer was clearly visible in the final against Nadal. Nadal, though tired, had little answer to the series of forehand and backhand winners Federer showered on him on all parts of the court.

Federer is 29 years old now and has good four to five years of top level tennis left in him. This is indeed a very good sign for Tennis and more youngsters would try to practice classic Tennis shots to succeed. I would like to see a single-handed backhand player like Federer and Sampras to rise to the top in few years. These players are a delight to watch. Federer's rise at the year end show down is a very promising sign for the future. Paul Annacone has contributed quite a bit to the renaissance of Federer.

The next year is going to be  not-so-easy for Federer as he would start the year trying to defend his crown at the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal is certainly in the form of his life. Murray has to transfer his immense skills to win key matches. Djokovic is bit inconsistent though he is a solid player on some days. Berdych, Soderling, Del Potro, and Roddick also are playing well. Australian open will be yet another challenge for Federer to sail through these guys.

Regaining No 1 crown seems to be a fair distance away as there are still more than 3000 points between Rafa and Federer. Seeing the incredible tennis played by both these guys, we are certainly going to have a treat in 2011 as the rivalry continues. Seeing the devastating form Federer displayed over the past week, I feel that he still has it in him to become the top player and rule the world for more time. 2010 clearly belongs to Rafa and Federer as they have won all the top tournaments between them. Year-end form shows that 2011 will not be much different either.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ATP World Tour Finals - Preview

ATP World Tour Finals (WTF) Tennis championship is just 3 days away at London O2. Top 8 players in the world are lined up for taking their momentum into next year. Last year's champion Nikolay Davydenko could not make it to top 8. The draws are out and there are 2 groups of 4 each. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, and Andy Roddick form the first group. Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and David Ferrer are in the second group. Top 2 from each group qualify for the semis. We shall now look at the chances of these players in this year's final tournament after which there is a 4 week break.

Nadal has had a great year with 3 grand slams to go with the world No1 crown. He is just coming off tendonitis and it would be interesting to see if he has lost any power because of this injury. Having said that, he is the favorite to win this tournament on current form. He is also placed in a relatively easy group which should see him sail easily into the semi finals. Djokovic cannot do anything right at this moment. Having lost his No 2 ranking to Federer, he is back to his No 3 days losing more finals than winning. He has the ability, but has the tendency to miss out in crucial matches. I expect Nadal and Berdych to give him tough matches. However, Nole normally screws up only on big matches.

Berdych is not in that great form since his heroics in French open and Wimbledon. He is a man to watch out for even though he has lost to innocuous opponents in last few months. His power hitting will be a treat to watch in hard courts. Roddick is not in good form either. He just made it to top 8 just because other contenders were worse than him. It is interesting to see how this ageing former world No 1 fares against the likes of Nadal and Djokovic. I expect Nadal and Djokovic to make it to semi finals from this group.

Federer was in good form in US open notwithstanding his unexpected loss to Djoker in the semi finals. He has won 2 crowns since then and the only blip being his loss to Monfils in BNP Paribas. He is not able to convert his match points in the recent past which has hurt him the most. We want to see the Federer of the past who used to grind the opponents down without lending any chance whatsoever. Murray is in bad form losing his No 4 ranking to Soderling. He has all the makings of next Tim Henman as his career is shaping up. He can defeat any player on his day and has the tendency to lose to any opponent as well. Lot of improvement needed in this tough group.

Soderling is the man to watch out for as the contender to lift the crown next only to Rafa. He has just won BNP Paribas Masters and is in good nick. He will certainly create problems to Federer and Murray in the round robin matches. Like Berdych, his power hitting should suit the hard courts in London. I expect him to reach the semis quite easily. David Ferrer is the dark horse in this group. I can not imagine him beating any of Federer, Murray or Soderling unless any of these players have a terrible off-day. Still he somehow scraped into top 8 and can surprise many if he gets into groove. I feel that Soderling and Federer will make it into the semis though Murray is also serious contender in this group.

Next week, it is going to be one final match-up between top players in the world with some interesting matches lined up. Also there are 1500 ATP ranking points at stake. I expected Federer and Nadal to clash in US open final. I am now eagerly waiting for another match between Federer and Nadal in the ATP WTF after more than a year. But there are other stunning players in the draw this year which can make this highly expected clash not to happen yet again. The champion will surely gain a lot of momentum into Australian open next year.