Roger Federer claimed his fifth year-end ATP finals title with a superlative performance over a defiant, but defeated world number one, Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 today.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer captivated audiences world-wide with a final that sparkled with explosive shot making, drama and as many twist and turns as a Shakespeare play; their 22nd meeting in an illustrious rivalry that will leave a great legacy for the game for years to come.
The world number one and two are polar opposites with one thing in common; an extraordinary will to win. While many began to question
Federer’s mental strength following his failure to capitalize on two match
points against an often mentally fragile Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the US Open earlier in the year, questions have also been raised of Nadal’s physical problems.
A shoulder injury in his serving arm caused Nadal to take a five week break before the ATP Finals and his recurring knee problems are
always a concern; many wondered how his body would cope after a grueling three set match against Britain’s Andy Murray in the semi-finals. Federer, however, seemed to have shrugged off any niggling doubts of his own authority in matches in the run up to the final. The tennis world waited with baited breath to see how the latest act in tennis’ greatest rivalry since Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras would play out.
It certainly didn’t disappoint the animated crowd in London, which included the likes of footballer, Thierry Henry, the London Mayor, Boris
Johnson and previous X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke. Oh, and a certain Argentine; the omnipresent, Diego Maradona.
In the opening set, Nadal described Federer as “unplayable”
and it was evident from the outset that the Swiss Maestro was back to his absolute best. The players went tactically toe to toe until the seventh game of the set when Nadal’s continued tactic of playing to Federer’s backhand backfired spectacularly as a superb cross court winner from that wing, gained the break of serve for the former world number one, who then closed out the first set 6-3 with a forehand winner in just 32 minutes.
But, with a dramatic swing of momentum, like an incensed lion released from its cage, Nadal characteristically pounced on Federer’s drop
in form in the second set, securing a break of serve in the fourth game,
switching tactics to work the Federer forehand with spectacular success.
Federer took a tumble in the fifth game following an unkind net cord for Nadal and so did his form, allowing the Spaniard to pull ahead with a comfortable 4-1 lead.
The second set went with serve and Nadal held his nerve after losing the first point when serving out the set at 5-3 by finishing Federer off with a wonderfully executed backhand slice right at the master’s feet. Game on.
It seemed as if Nadal had all of the momentum, but instead the first appeared to foreshadow the deciding set as Federer regained his
composure to tell the world and all who ever doubted him that he was back.
Brimming with a new found confidence and possibly with the
direction from his new coach, Paul Annacone (former coach of Tim Henman), Federer hugged the baseline and ventured forward forcing Nadal into more unforced errors from the outset.
Federer gained his first break of serve in the third game following a tense hawk-eye heart thumping moment of pure drama to give him the opportunity of a break point which he finished off with a volley. Nadal made him work especially hard for the following hold of serve, but a flurry of fantastic first serves and an ace at the end secured Federer a 4-1 lead.
There was no come back for the visibly tired Nadal as he was
broken again with the help of a backhand cross court return straight out of the textbook by Federer who looked particularly calm as he stepped up to serve for the match at 5-1.
Once again, Federer’s attacking tactics served him well as
he closed down the net to give himself three match points. Despite saving one, Nadal succumbed to a well and truly rejuvenated Roger Federer, 6-3, 3-6 6-1, who lifted the ATP World Tour Finals trophy aloft to the sounds of Coldplay’s iconic, ‘Fix you.’ Annacone certainly has Roger.
By winning the year-end event, Federer has once again reignited the rivalry between two of the world’s greatest ever tennis players,
who revealed the upmost respect for one another in the post match interviews on court, congratulating each other on yet another fantastic year. But who will reign supreme in 2011?
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker said: “I wouldn’t be
surprised if Roger Federer isn’t the world number one at the end of next year.”
While former British number one, Tim Henman conceded: “Rafa
looked a bit jaded after the Murray match.”
Whatever transpires between the two in 2011, one thing
remains, the balance of power has once again shifted – for the moment, at
This report was used by www.miamitennisnews.com