Djokovic wins anticlimactic finale

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No-one wanted it to end the way it did. Rather than being treated to what promised to be an electric final between the world’s top two players, the 17,500 tennis fans packed into the O2 had to cut their losses and watch a meaningless exhibition match where one’s of its participants only hours previously was busy playing Mario Kart. This is the gloriously unsatisfactory fashion in which The ATP World Tour culminated in 2014; nevertheless, in truth such a finale encapsulated what appeared in many ways a dud tournament in London this year.

Djokovic sr.wikipedia

Hitting the Tour Finals off with a definitive whimper were matches such as Nishikori vs. Murray and Federer vs Raonic respectively. Not only did Murray fail to give the British fans much to cheer with his straight-sets defeat, but Federer quickly saw off Raonic in what was expected to be a much more fraught encounter following the Canadian’s victory over the Swiss legend in The Paris Masters.

These one-sided meetings became a familiar pattern throughout much of week. In Tuesday’s afternoon session, Djokovic disposed of Cilic 6-1, 6-1. In Tuesday’s evening session Wawrinka routed Berdych 6-1, 6-1. Only on day five did the ticket wielding spectators see a match go the distance, but that confrontation between Nishikori and Ferrer proved irrelevant when Ferrer himself was just a substitute for an ailing Cilic. With Djokovic and Wawrinka gliding effortlessly into the semi-finals from Group A, it was left to Federer and Murray to salvage some kind of intrigue from the remaining round robin matches; and the pair did, even if not in an orthodox manner.

Humbling Murray to a 6-0 score-line in the first set, Federer nearly pushed Murray over the precipice of tennis humiliation by threatening a doughnut in the second set as well. The Scot, attempting to hold his serve for the first time 0-5 down, looked uneasy before Federer offered up an errant forehand. Murray eventually battled through, wrapping up the game with an ace, but Federer then ended the match minutes later having been on court for less than hour. To use an abundance of clichés, Federer simply provided a master-class. The serve and volley tactics adopted under Edberg’s guidance made him look a step ahead of the British number one throughout and every inch the revered 17-time Major Champion he is.

Yet, in the semi-final and indeed what turned out to be final match of the tournament, Federer didn’t dominate against his compatriot, Wawrinka. The third seed produced some fierce forehands, befitting of his a man who holds the Austrian Open that immediately left his Davis Cup teammate reeling with the loss of the first set. It was a competitive and stirring start that The Final’s directors must have been delighted to bear witness to. Clawing back the second set 7-5, Federer did inevitably mount a comeback. But once more, the perseverant streak of Wawrinka held firm and he broke again in the third, albeit with the aid of some questionable umpiring decisions. At 5-4, Wawrinka served for match. However, he cracked, collapsed and bottled it; throwing away three match points, one of them an unspeakable unforced error at the net. The momentum was now all with Federer and it was no surprise that the now fever-pitched crowd carried him over the line to take the subsequent tie-break 8-6 with aplomb.

Although such a thrilling tie has been soured by allegations alluding to Mrs. Federer’s heated court-side support, this match was by far the tournaments defining moment. Djokovic might have won the title by clinically dismissing his previous opponents to point he became champion by default; but the narrative provided by Federer’s electrifying victories and then unfortunate back injury following the semi-final will have a longer legacy. It alludes to the sudden realisation that the Swiss maestro is in fact aging. The magic he crafts will soon be a mere memory. So the 2014 ATP Tour Finals, despite being a disappointment for some, perfectly encapsulates what will become of arguably tennis’s greatest ever player; lessons one must learn if Federer’s eventual fall is to be accepted as a sad reality.

Photograph: sr.wikipedia

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