Following their scintillating semi-final clash at the Paris Masters, 2012 champion Novak Djokovic (Player Profile) and six time ATP World Tour Finals titleholder Roger Federer (Player Profile) will meet once again, just over 72 hours later, in the London O2 Arena. While the gap between the two matches is almost comical, the anticipation for this clash could arguably exceed the previous one, as few expected Federer to produce such a competitive effort in Paris. While Djokovic has won four of their last six meetings, Federer still leads the Head-to-Head 16-14.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion captivated the Parisian crowd last week with his fantastic performances against Juan Martin Del Potro and in defeat against Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. In many ways, the loss to the Serbian no. 1 was better than many of his previous victories throughout the year, as the Roger was clearly comfortable on court and hence was able to settle into his game. For the majority of the first two sets, Federer dominated the long rallies, commit few errors, and managed to serve with pin-point accuracy to lead Djokovic by a set and a break before the Serb mounted a comeback. The Swiss No. 1 eventually lost the second two sets but it was certainly telling signs that he is quickly regaining his confidence with his groundstrokes as well as his net play, both of which are vital for his overall game.
Novak Djokovic successfully seized the Paris Masters title from defending champion David Ferrer on Sunday afternoon, edging him in a competitive 7-5, 7-5 match. It was a historic win for the former No. 1 as he became only the 15th player to win 40 ATP Tour titles. It was also his 200th ATP Masters win of his career and only swells his confidence heading into the ATP Tour Finals.
“I am definitely playing the best tennis this year now,” Djokovic said following his straight sets victory over Ferrer. “I’m playing on a very high level and have lots of confidence in myself, in my game.”
Both Djokovic and Ferrer will be on court Tuesday afternoon, with only a days rest, including travel. This absurdly short period between tournaments must certainly factor into their ability to perform at their best. Fatigue and lack of adequate preparation on the new courts are underrated factors that can affect even the best of players. For this particular match, Federer has had a whole day more to rest and prepare for the match and that could be the difference in his particular match. Roger has shown that his old form still shines through – he just has to work on his consistency. For example, during their semi-final match, Federer’s first serve percentage was at 75 percent yet that number shrank to 50 in the following set. He also committed over thrice the amount of errors and missed more than half his points at the net, which were his bread and butter in the opening set.
On the other hand, Djokovic has been raking up titles over the past few weeks, from Beijing to Paris, the Serbian star has truly played some of his best tennis on the tour. The question now is, can he maintain this pace for the next week? Or has he been burnt out from the extraordinary effort he has exerted since the US Open portion of the season? History has shown that Novak usually has a slip up at a tournament heading into the Tour Finals, such as losing in the opening round of the 2012 Paris Masters to Sam Querrey, only to win the Tour Finals a week later. This year, instead of dropping out of a tournament early, he instead remained focused and lifted the trophy. Will this have a negative impact on his performance at the finals? Possibly, but he should be capable of edging Federer in another three set thriller.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer in Three Sets