The penultimate article of my World Tour Finals preview takes a look at the year of Roger Federer. It was a year of record setting for the Swiss, with his seventh Wimbledon title matching Pete Sampras as well as extending his slam record to the grand number of seventeen. He also reached 300 weeks at Number 1 in the ATP rankings but has since been took over by Novak Djokovic.
Titles: Rotterdam (Indoor Hard), Dubai (Hard), Indian Wells (Hard), Madrid (Clay), Wimbledon (Grass), Cincinnati (Hard)
The year didn’t start off great for Federer, having to withdraw from Doha at the semi final stage with back problems but it would only be precautionary with no ill effects being shown in the first slam of the year. Alexander Kudryavtsev, Ivo Karlovic, Bernard Tomic and most impressively Juan Martin Del Potro were put away with little difficulty in straight sets as he made his thirtieth consecutive grand slam semi final. Despite losing the first set, Nadal would eventually come out on top in four sets to extend his winning streak to 6 over the Swiss when not playing indoors. A quick switch to the clay for Davis Cup action didn’t bring much success, as John Isner earned a shocking four set win to help the USA to a 5-0 win over Switzerland.
After Davis Cup, he would go on a 16 match winning streak spanning four tournaments on three different continents. He continued his dominance indoors on his way to the Rotterdam title, making easy work of Juan Martin Del Potro after battling through a tough semi final with Nikolay Davydenko. In Dubai, he would face Juan Martin Del Potro once more in the semi finals but it wouldn’t be quite so easy this time round. Two tie break sets were needed to get past the Argentinian, who had blown four set points in the second set. Andy Murray would put up a fight but Federer would break late in both sets to seal his second straight title. Indian Wells would make it three, and it would be the third consecutive tournament that he would also face Juan Martin Del Potro. He yet again came out on top to make the semi final, where he would end his poor run against Rafael Nadal with a surprisingly comfortable straight sets victory. The run would end in Miami, where he suffered a very surprising defeat against Andy Roddick in the third round.
With Andy Murray not competing on the controversial blue clay in Madrid, as well as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal exiting before the semi final stage, the stage was set for him to take advantage for his only clay title of the year. He recovered from a slow start in the final, needing to come from a set down to take the title 3-6 7-5 7-5. In the remaining two tournaments, Novak Djokovic would be his undoing defeating Federer in Rome and at the French Open in the semi finals of both. The French Open saw him drop sets to a number of lower ranked players including Adrian Ungur, Nicolas Mahut and David Goffin as well as falling two sets behind to Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarters so it was of very little surprise to see Djokovic win fairly comfortably to make the final.
An inspired Tommy Haas stopped him from adding to his five titles in Halle but there would be no one to stop it becoming a magnificent seven at Wimbledon. Aside from a surprisingly tricky tie against Julien Benneteau, who took a 2-0 lead before losing in 5 sets, it was a fairly comfortable route to the final. The semi final against Novak Djokovic had showcased some of the Federer of old and he never looked in danger in his four set victory. Andy Murray was waiting in the final hoping to earn his first grand slam of his career but would be denied for the fifth time. After losing the first set, the weather struck – causing the final to be delayed. After the resumption of play, Federer took hold of the momentum and would eventually win in four sets for his seventeenth slam and the seventh at Wimbledon and with it he also reclaimed the ATP No. 1 ranking.
The one thing that has eluded Federer in his illustrious career has been an Olympic gold medal, and it would do once more as Andy Murray thrashed him in the final without dropping his serve in the straight sets victory. Having needed four hours to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis, it was a tired looking performance but it is difficult to take anything away from Murray, who was ruthless in the victory.
Making the final in Cincinnati ensured he would deny Novak Djokovic the No.1 spot for a little longer, adding extra to the delay after he came out on top in a dominant performance. In the first set he would bagel Novak Djokovic in an incredible display of hitting. The second set would be settled in the complete opposite away, eventually winning 8-6 in the tie break to take the trophy. He would struggle to take this form into the US Open and once more would run into an inspired Tomas Berdych. The Czech had often gave him trouble and did more than that here, taking victory in four sets at the quarter final stage as Federer’s hopes of ending the year at No.1 took a huge hit.
Andy Murray would once again come out on top against him in Shanghai and more surprisingly, Federer would see his incredible indoor record end at the hands of Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentinian would need a final set tie break to win in Basel but more importantly, ended a lengthy losing streak against his opponent on the year.
Despite his “struggles” post-Wimbledon (by the great man’s standards), it is incredibly difficult to write off Federer with it being shown time and time again that he can still compete with the best. Making the No.1 spot again is proof of that and it is hard to deny he is still the best player indoors.