Day 2 of the ATP World Tour Finals is over. And of those 24 hours, 2nd seed Roger Federer needed only 1 hour and 9 minutes to defeat 8th seed Janko Tipsarevic, 6-3, 6-1. As the maestro entered the arena the thunderous applause illustrated why he had won the Fan’s Favorite Award for the 10th year running. From cow bells to Federer masks to chants of ‘Roger! Roger!’, one almost had to feel a bit sad for Tipsarevic. But these are the pitfalls of playing against Federer, it comes with the territory. Especially considering the location. The Brits had embraced Roger into their hearts long before Andy arrived on the scene. His successes on Wimbledon’s grass courts and more recently under the blue lights at the O2 have only nurtured this love affair even more.
Federer did have a few problems, his 1st serve percentages were very low, especially at the beginning, hovering at 34%. Actually scratch the ‘few’ in the previous sentence. That was his only problem. Everything else about his game was flawless. He was hitting deep backhands consistently and his inside out forehands looked straight out of a tennis manual. Even with his 1st serves, when he did get them in, he won an outstanding 95% of the points. He played great offense as expected but amazing defense too, getting balls back into play from angles that did not exist. Federer’s ability to bend the rule of physics was on full display against an opponent who has been sick the past few days but said
“I think Roger was just too good. I have not been feeling great for the last couple of days, but even in the previous matches that I played Roger, I wasn’t having that much success, as you can see. I definitely won’t blame the loss today on my medical situation… I probably would have lost anyway, but the problem was that he got an early break in both sets. Everybody knows that when Roger starts leading, he is probably the best player in the world when he’s a break up early in the set. I gave it my best shot. It just didn’t work today.”
Roger broke in the first set immediately to go up 3-0 and before long the set was over in 30 minutes. If possible, Roger was even better in the second set. His 1st serve percentage went up and he was able to apply pressure constantly on Tipsarevic converting 3 out of 7 break points. The last one came at match point and for once, Roger took it at the first opportunity to close out a ruthless performance. Federer said the following,
“I’m happy with my level of play today against Janko, who is obviously a good player. I think it’s nice conditions here. I’ve had a good year. It’s true, I feel like I’m striking the ball well after today. I hope it’s a sign for more to come hopefully.”
With this win Roger set a new record and climbed up a few spots on a couple of all time records as well which I have outlined below.
- A new record of 40 match wins (and only 7 losses) at the World Tour Finals; he broke the previous record held by Ivan Lendl.
- This was also his 1072nd match which puts him just 1 match behind John McEnroe in 6th place on the list of total number of career matches played.
- A career total of 876 match wins (to 196 losses) which allowed him to jump over John McEnroe to be 4th on that list.
He now has 69 match wins (and 10 losses) this year.
Interestingly, Tipsarevic was asked if he thought Federer might have been a little lucky to be able to maintain excellence year in and year out, Tipsareic replied,
“I think Roger Federer is everything but lucky. People see him play this flawless tennis and say, ‘Oh, life is so easy for Roger, he’s so talented. He is talented but there’s so much work behind that. Of course the fact that he was born with that magic hand of his is a plus. But I think Roger is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — professionals that the sport has ever had. Throughout his career, he is always putting tennis as the No. 1 thing in his life, never doing anything to damage his professional tennis career. This is the reason why he has such durability and was almost never injured during his career. This is my take on that. It has nothing to do with luck.”
Not only does this comment illustrate how dedicated Federer is to this sport but also how his colleagues perceive him and why they keep voting for him to receive the Stefan Edberg award for sportsmanship. He won his 8th this year, and out of the past 9 years, he missed out only once, to who else but Rafa Nadal, in 2010.
Now I am a Federer fan and hence this lengthy post over his first match but let’s not forget the far more interesting match-up that happened in the night session when 4th seed David Ferrer took on 6th seed Juan Martin del Potro. I had thought that if Ferrer was tired, Delpo would have the slight edge. Well I obviously discounted how fit and mentally strong the ironman is. It seems winning in Paris has only spurred him on even more. The 6’6” Argentine could do very little against the relentless ground strokes of Ferrer. Though Delpo won the second set his serve was nowhere near as lethal as we saw in Basel. He was broken once in the first set and twice in the second. Ferrer won 93 points to Delpo’s 80. Ferrer was better both in his serves and returns and after 2 hours and 16 minutes, Ferrer won 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Group B’s standings at the end of the day are as follows:
Day 3 brings us back to Group A today where the winners from Day 1’s matches face off in the first session and then the losers face off in the night session. This means that Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will battle each other for the 7th time this year. The two have had some epic matches in 2012 and the results are split down the middle. They are being touted as the new rivalry ready to overtake the classic Federer-Nadal aka Fedal rivalry. I have my own opinions on this matter but will put that aside for another post. Regardless, this match will be crucial in determining who is currently in better form and could potentially win the World Tour Finals trophy. I feel Murray has more variety in his game, but I would back Nole by a slight margin because he’s been in such good form. With Andy, it’s a matter of whether he can keep his emotions and negativity in check. I still think Murray has some ways to go to conquer that side of him, which Nole, Rafa and obviously Roger can do so well. It’s that little ingredient that still separates him from those 3.
In the night session, Berdych and Tsonga will fight it out for survival in this tournament. I will give the edge to Berdych because Tsonga doesn’t seem himself lately. I think their seedings are true representations of their form at this moment with the 5th seed being just a little bit better than the 7th. And I fear Tsonga might crumple unless he finds something deep inside to push him over. In their last match in Shanghai Berdych won in the QFs in two straight, albeit tight sets, and never truly looked in trouble. The same might happen today.