An exciting and eventful week in Paris for the final Masters 1000 event of the season culminated with a wonderful finish, as David Ferrer, the world #5 caught in the shadows of the dominant top 4, won his first Masters crown and 18th title overall by defeating qualifier Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in straight sets.
A quick recap of the week:
Roger Federer withdrew from the event following his final loss in Basel to Juan Martin del Potro. As a result, he gave up the #1 ranking to Novak Djokovic, who will end the year on top. Speaking of the Australian Open champion, he was defeated by Sam Querrey in the 2nd round, ending a 10-match winning streak where he picked up titles in Beijing and Shanghai.
Andy Murray suffered the same fate as he was shockingly upset by Jerzy Janowicz, who saved a match point in the second set to win 6-2 in the third. For Murray, it was the third consecutive tournament in which he has held match point in a contest and lost. The first was to Milos Raonic in Tokyo, the second to Djokovic in the Shanghai final.
The biggest story of the week was Janowicz, the Polish 21 year-old. He defeated five straight top 20 players before losing to Ferrer in the final. They were Kohlschreiber, (19), Cilic (15), Murray (3), Tipsarevic (9), and Simon (20).
The Pole's play was outstanding all week, as he rained down bombing serves and groundstrokes. But he also showed a great sense of variety and touch, employing drop shots at will, and a rock-solid head and mental maturity. He became the first player in 12 years to reach a final in his Masters debut. He also jumps to #26 in the world after his star-in-the-making type performance. It is quite considerable when you realize that he started the year #221 in the world.
For the victor of the week, Ferrer, it is a tremendous achievement. At the age of 30 (old in tennis, supposedly), he has quietly put together his best year on tour. He has a tour-leading 71 wins and 7 titles. His attitude, effort, and consistency has paid great dividends and finally winning a Masters title is the icing on the cake to a fantastic year.
Mini World Tour Finals Preview:
The year-ending World Tour Finals starts on Monday, as the final eight do battle at the O2 Arena in London for the final title of the year. The participants are Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Ferrer, Berdych, del Potro, Tsonga, and Tipsarevic. The world #4 Nadal withdrew from the event, marking the third time he has been absent from the proceedings since 2005, when he was world #2.
Group A features Djokovic, Murray, Berdych, and Tsonga, while Group B features Federer, Ferrer, del Potro, and Tipsarevic. Federer certainly received a favourable draw, as he is 31-3 combined against his three round robin opponents.
My thoughts and predictions:
Federer should make the semifinals if he shows the same kind of form that has won him his past two World Tour Finals titles. Tipsarevic should be a straight-sets win, while Ferrer and Delpo should give much more difficult matches. Well, at least Delpo anyway. I have my suspicions that Ferrer will be very tired, both physically and emotionally after the past two weeks he has had, winning Valencia and Paris. He only has a day of rest after playing for two weeks straight before he faces the 2009 US Open champion, and he could be gassed. We shall see.
On the other side, it is much more open. Djokovic has been strong lately and he should be a force to be reckoned with unless fatigue overcomes him. It's hard to question where Murray's mind is right now after losing three matches he should have won recently. Nevertheless, he will have the full crowd support behind him, especially after what he accomplished at Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the US Open, where he won his first Slam and ended the ever-long drought for a British Grand Slam winner (76 years, I believe?). Berdych and Tsonga are two unknowns. They can both play lights out and they'll need to if they hope to make it out of the round robin stage. The Frenchman will take refuge in the fact that he had such a great week a year ago, making the final before losing to Federer in a very close match.
If I had to make a prediction now, it would go like this:
Federer goes 3-0
Del Potro goes 2-1
Ferrer goes 1-2
Tipsarevic goes 0-3
Murray goes 2-1
Berdych goes 2-1
Djokovic goes 2-1
Tsonga goes 0-3
The final would feature Federer and Murray in a blockbuster.
Regardless of the outcome, it has been an amazing season with so many terrific storylines. Let us hope that the year ends with a bang in London, preferably with Federer coming out the victor! (Yes, I know I am biased, sue me).
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!