Excerpted from www.TennisNow.com
Roger Federer ferries to practice at the London's 02 Arena and rides a wave of local endorsement as the favorite to collect his fifth career ATP World Tour Finals championship. Federer faces David Ferrer on Sunday night in his opening match of the season-ending event.
Needing no nudge from IMG chief Ted Forstmann, British bookmaker Tennis Ladbrokes has installed Federer as a 5-to-2 favorite to reclaim the title he last won in 2007 when he beat Ferrer in the final. That was Federer's fourth season-ending crown in a six-year span.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who skipped Paris to rest his sore serving shoulder last week and presumably should be fresher than the rest of the eight-man field, comes in at second at 3-to-1 as he aims to win his first ATP World Tour Finals title.
Former champion Novak Djokovic is listed as a 4-to-1 shot to raise the title trophy on the final Sunday followed by local favorite Andy Murray (9-to-2), Paris champion Robin Soderling (8-to-1) and Andy Roddick (14-to-1). Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych and Ferrer are the long shots at 25-to-1.
Arriving to the 02 by ferry, Federer, and the rest of the field, require a periscope to catch sight of Nadal in the rankings. The nine-time Grand Slam champion holds a 3,805 lead over the second-ranked Swiss and a near 6,000-point edge over the third-ranked Djokovic in the rankings.
The indoor hard-court surface though is more conducive to Federer's brand of all-court aggression than Nadal's unrelenting cross-court combinations and Federer enters the event with more match play in recent weeks than his arch rival.
Despite Federer's inability to find closure holding match points in four distressing losses this season—against Marcos Baghdatis in Indian Wells, vs. Berdych in Miami, in the US Open semifinals against Djokovic and in last Saturday's Paris semifinals when he squandered five set points against Gael Monfils—he has won 16 of his last 18 matches and two of his last three tournaments playing at times, dynamic, attacking tennis.
The inability to find finality in those matches created questions of fragility that Federer feels are unfounded.
"I look back this year on maybe a few wasted opportunities. If you add all these things together, and let’s say I win one more round each time, it’s a bit of a different season," Federer told The Telegraph. "I think for me that was the worst part. I’ve missed quite a few big opportunities which then makes my season look somewhat fragile, which it wasn’t. I think it was a good season after all. I don’t know why that has happened. I’ve always tried to play each point as tough as I can and sometimes it just happens that way."
If you watched Paris last week, you saw Federer dominate on serve at times, but look befuddled by his forehand failing him in critical stages vs. Monfils.
If Federer can serve as well as he did in his early matches in Paris, find the range on his forehand and apply selective pressure at net, he has a clear shot to reach the semifinals given his recent form and past dominance against two of the three other players in his round-robin group.
Federer is 10-0 lifetime vs. Ferrer and has won 14 of 15 meetings with Soderling, who snapped the Swiss stylist's record run of 23 consecutive major semifinal appearances with a shocking quarterfinal conquest at the French Open. So with that upset, Federer has restored order in sweeping the Swede at the US Open and humbling a timid Soderling, who looked resigned to his fate, 6-1, 6-1, in last month's Shanghai quarterfinals.
The fifth-ranked Murray is the only man in Group B with a winning record over Federer. Murray scored straight-sets wins over Federer in Masters 1000 finals in Toronto and Shanghai to extend his career edge to 8-5.
Federer reduced Murray to tears in the aftermath of his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) victory in the Australian Open final in January and believes if Murray, who has fallen to Federer in two Grand Slam finals, finds a way to break through for his first, then more major moments may be coming.
"If Murray wins a first Grand Slam title, that could possibly open the floodgates and he could start dominating and winning slams, but I guess you just never know until he does it," Federer said. "He’s older now than I was when I won Wimbledon for the first time. And you don’t want to have the same career as somebody else. Every career is different. It’s important that you believe that you can do it, and Murray clearly has the game to do it, as otherwise he wouldn’t have a winning record against me or so many titles already.”
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