Roger Federer made his 8th final at the year-ending World Tour Finals with a very impressive 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Andy Murray in the semifinals. After what had been a shaky round robin stage at times for Federer, it was a breath of fresh air to see the Maestro perform up to his very lofty levels.
Murray started the match on fire, breaking the Federer serve early and holding a very quick lead. No doubt this was worrying to Federer fans after his loss against del Potro, but little did we all know that Roger would turn it all around magnificently.
Federer was down 3-1, 0-30 early, but then the tide slowly started to turn. After getting to deuce on Murray's serve at 3-2, he impressively broke back at 4-3, and from there, he never looked back. The set went to a tiebreak, and after getting down an early mini-break, he got it right back with a trademark inside-out forehand winner. At 5-4, controlled aggression won him the crucial point he needed, and at 6-5, a heavy deep forehand that Murray could not return won him the set.
In the second set, Roger really started to open up his shoulders and free up. He earned himself a break of serve at 1-1 after being down 40-0 (which you may remember happened at Wimbledon in the 3rd set), and from there, he never looked back. He captured a second break at 4-2 and put away a forehand winner on match point to seal the deal.
Novak Djokovic recovered from a set and a break deficit to take out Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. So therefore the final match of the season, fittingly, will be Djokovic vs Federer. Roger has won the last two matches and the head to head is tied 2-2 on the season.
Federer brings his A-Game:
In the simplest terms I can think of, Roger Federer showed why he may be the most resourceful tennis player who has ever picked up a racket. Murray started the match off in great form, but then Roger changed his tactics, which unnerved Murray as the match went on. The Swiss started to chip and charge, a staple of his coach Paul Annacone. He started to attack the net more and more, and used great angles.
Murray, regardless of what Ivan Lendl has been preaching to him about being aggressive, will always be a counter-puncher. He is not an all-out attacker like Federer is. Therefore, the moment Roger started to shake things up and not allow Murray to get into his baseline rhythm, the Scot had serious trouble.
Statistically, it was a very solid match from Fed. He was 13/15 at the net, broke all three times he had the chance, and backed up his second serve by winning 63% of the points. He played his best at the big stages, and surely he knew his form heading into the match was average, so to put together such an amazing performance must feel just wonderful for the man.
A few notes: Federer is 8-1 in Masters Cup/World Tour Finals semifinals after this win. And he was two points away against Nikolay Davydenko in 2009 from making that mark 9-0. And just how dominant has Federer been at the year-ending championships? Well, he has made the final eight of the last ten years, and has only failed to qualify for the semifinals just once. And in that year, 2008, he was suffering from a bad back and still lost a heart-breaker to Murray, a match where he saved 7 match points in one game while barely being able to move.
So we are all set for fireworks in the final match of the season. The two undisputed best players of the season squaring off in what should be an epic. I would give the advantage to Federer if only for his history at this event. He also has the confidence knowing he has beaten Djokovic the past two times. The conditions suit him against the kind of game Novak plays, and if he plays anywhere near as well as he did against Murray, he could walk away with a 7th year-ending title.
PS: I do think Djokovic has been the best player this year hands down, however I think Federer has had the most impressive season. Considering he's 31, had 70 wins for the first time since 2006, and returned to #1, it is almost unbelievable. He has put in the hard work and dedicated himself all year, and for that, I thank you Roger. Thank you for blessing us with your beautiful tennis. If my jaw drops any further I may require surgery.
May the best player win, and whatever happens, tennis wins with this one.
This is my tennis blog, Lefty Advantage. Tennis is my biggest passion in life and I started this site to discuss the great game. I mainly follow the career of Roger Federer, but I truly love watching all tennis, whether it be the final of a Grand Slam or a junior tournament on the other side of the world.
I have played tennis for 13 years. If you ever met me, I could talk your head off about all things tennis for hours on end if you would let me. Welcome, and enjoy the writing!