It has been almost a week since the finals of the 2011 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals were played, where Roger Federer won his 6th year-end title by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three spectacular sets. In that time period, I have thought largely about what the tournament meant for all nine players that competed and how each one of their result may do for them heading into the Australian Open next year. I believe it is pretty clear that Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer, and Tomas Berdych were the "winners" of the week and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray were the "losers" of the week. Sure, Mardy Fish went 0-3 but he can hardly be called a "loser" because he won a set off both Nadal and Federer, and he qualified for the Masters Cup for the very first time at the age of 29. That is a remarkable achievement and he should be applauded. Even though Tsonga, Ferrer, and Berdych didn't win the event, they had fantastic weeks, and Ferrer especially, who knocked off both Murray and Djokovic. Tsonga also took out a hungry Rafa Nadal which was no small feat either.
However, when all is said and done, the biggest winner of them all is Roger Federer. He broke yet another record by winning his 6th Masters Cup title. He also tied Ivan Lendl for most year-end championship wins with 39. He has won two consecutive titles three times now, and in three cities, Houston, Shanghai, and London. Since 1990, there have only been three players to win the tournament whilst going undefeated. Michael Stitch in 1993, Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, and Roger Federer in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2011. That is 5 times going undefeated, and twice in consecutive years in doing so. Very impressive numbers. Each year, the competition keeps getting tougher and tougher, or so that seems to be the general consensus in tennis debates, yet the ever-magical Roger Federer continues to thrive in the 5th biggest tournament of the year, and does so with immaculate style and flash. For all the doubt that has been placed in our minds by the media that Roger Federer can still go at the highest of levels, he proved that he very well could by winning the World Tour Finals once again. As the saying goes, "the man's a Maestro."
But now onto business: a breakdown of the week that was for the top 9:
Andy Murray: 0-1 in Round Robin, withdrew
It certainly was not the week Andy expected. He lost in straight sets to David Ferrer in his first round robin match and withdrew from the tournament the day after claiming he was injured before the tournament during a practice session. Now, Andy will be very disappointed at not being able to play in the tournament which was again held in London, which has more significance to him than any other player. I believe however, that he should be more disappointed in his attitude. Before the tournament even started, he got into a war of words with Federer, and in one of his remarks, he stated "I will let my tennis do the talking." Answer me this, readers: How can Andy Murray say with any confidence that he will let his tennis do the talking if he is injured, and knows that he is injured? Personally, I saw it as being very arrogant and he got what was coming to him. A fitting end to the season for a man with such little class.
Mardy Fish: 0-3 in Round Robin, did not make SF
As I mentioned before, even though Fish went 0-3 I think he can look at the tournament he played and be happy with himself. He took a set off Fed and Rafa, and above all that, he enjoyed himself. He knows he may not be back next year so he took his time and relished the experience of being called one of the top 8 players in the world. For him it was an honour and the results won't matter.
Rafael Nadal: 1-2 in Round Robin, did not make SF
After the run Nadal had in 2010 where he made the final and lost to Roger, this will definitely be a disappointing end to the ATP season for Rafa. He never did seem himself. He barely got through Mardy Fish in his first match. He got utterly destroyed by Roger in the second match, and in his final Round Robin match, he had all the chances to win but came up short against Tsonga. I believe the gas was just not in the tank, as usual at this time of year for the Spaniard, but the loss to Roger also affected him mentally, much like the loss to Rafa in the French in 2008 did to Roger. Rafa shall not be worried just yet however, as he and his fellow teammates can win the Davis Cup vs Argentina to end the year on a high.
Novak Djokovic: 1-2 in Round Robin, did not make SF
Novak Djokovic ran out of steam after the US Open, plain and simple. By the time London came around, he was tired and unmotivated, and it clearly showed. He came through against Tomas Berdych in a tough match that probably wore him out, then struggled mightily against David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic. Only time will tell if Novak can have a magical 2012 season similar to his 2011 campaign, but this tournament was not a great end to an otherwise great year.
Janko Tipsarevic: 9th man, 1-1 in Round Robin, did not make SF
Janko was the lucky guy to get into the tournament after Andy Murray withdrew due to being the 9th ranked player in the world. His hard work in 2011 paid off and he got his chance, and he did not blow it. In his first match, he barely lost to Tomas Berdych, and in the second last Round Robin match of the tournament on the Friday, he defeated fellow countryman Djokovic in three sets, which in the end cost Novak his shot at the semifinals. For a guy who was not slated to be in the Masters Cup this year, going 1-1 and beating the #1 player in the world is pretty neat. I am happy for Janko too; he has become one of my favourites players on tour and I love his humble, hard-working attitude.
David Ferrer: 2-1 in Round Robin, semifinalist
Ferrer had a pretty great week all things considering. He made the final in 2007, but did go 0-3 last year so to go 2-1 and make the semifinals is definitely a worthy achievement. He defeated Murray and Djokovic and played his best tennis of the year, in his own words. He lost to Federer in the semis, but against Roger, he does not have any weapons to counter Roger's all-court attacking game. Even then, it was a valiant effort and he probably should have won the first set. I think he'll have a fantastic 2012 season and I love his tenacity and spirit. He is one player that I love to watch just for the fight that he possesses.
Tomas Berdych: 2-1 in Round Robin, semifinalist
Overall it was a very good week for Berdych as he made the semifinals. Along the way he lost a tight match to Djokovic, and won tough three-set matches against Tipsarevic and Ferrer, the latter in which he came very close to losing and thus would have eliminated himself from the final four. On a more personal note, Berdych was forced to honour his best to go bald if he won 50 matches in a season, played in the Masters Cup, and won a title, he would shave his head. He won his 50th match in Bercy and won in Beijing a few weeks before that, so have a good time being bald, Tomas!
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: 2-1 in Round Robin, finalist
Tsonga showed why he is the most dangerous man on the ATP Tour. He is very capable of playing explosive, unstoppable tennis at any time, and he did so many times in the week of the World Tour Finals. In his first match, he barely lost to Federer after a mental lapse in concentration in the final game, but then rebounded nicely, following with wins over Fish and Rafa. The Rafa win was huge for him, and he propelled himself into the final with a good win over Berdych. In the final, he threw the kitchen sink and more at Roger, but still came up empty. Nevertheless, a very telling week for Jo, and I can't wait to see what 2012 brings for him.
Roger Federer: 3-0 in Round Robin, CHAMPION
What else can you say that hasn't already been said? Fed keeps defying the odds and keeps playing sublime tennis in the biggest events of the year. Winning his 6th Masters Cup title was not as simple as winning his 5th, where he only lost one set in the entire week. This year, he lost sets to Tsonga twice and Fish, and was a tad more inconsistent than he was the previous year. However, a win is a win and that cannot be denied in any way. The highlight of the week for many was seeing him demolish Nadal 63 60 in one of the greatest performances ever. I know I won't ever forget it. Hell, I may not ever take it off my PVR, it was that great. All in all, the win for Roger does wonders for his offseason and now he can go into the Australian Open next year with endless confidence and hopefully he can break through and win his first Slam in two years and his 17th overall.
It was a great week filled with great matches by the very best players in the world, and I enjoyed every minute of it (not just because Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal all struggled). The city of London did a supreme job of hosting the event once again, and I cannot wait until this time next year when we get to see the top 8 do their stuff on the greatest stage again.