With it having been 24 years since the world’s top two players have faced each other in the final this was a momentous occasion. Inside a packed O2 arena occupied with the inclusion of a few notable celebrities such as Thierry Henry, Kevin Spacey and Ronnie Wood amongst many others, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played to become champion of the ATP World Tour Finals.
Nadal had shown impressive grit and determination to come through a tough match against Andy Murray – despite having fewer aces, winners and first serve points won during the match, as well as playing three matches in the same number of days. Surely fatigue would be a factor here. On the contrary, Roger Federer meticulously beat the world number 3 in the semi-finals and looked as fresh as ever. Federer had many reasons to win the season-ending championship, not least the desire to beat his great rival. Having played well throughout the tournament, he was slightly the favourite to come out on top.
Federer won his first service game without dropping a point, but Nadal replied with the same the next game. Five games into the first set and Federer had already amassed ten – a great part of this down to the serve that proved to be a hugely underrated part of his game. He didn’t need to think twice when the first break point emerged, and eventually took the first set 6-3.
In the second set however, once Nadal broke his opponents’ serve in the fourth game it was all plain sailing to take the set 6-3. Just as the crowd thought Nadal may nick this from the Swiss, there were unprecedented number of unforced errors from the Spaniard allowing Federer to creep into the lead, eventually breaking twice to win the third and final set 6-1 to claim a joint record fifth singles title – a feat equalled only by the likes of Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.
Andy Murray displayed a gallant effort against Rafael Nadal and did well to pull a set back after a disappointing start. Nadal however, consistently showed intelligent tactical play by keeping the ball away from Murray’s backhand and this played dividends as more and more unforced errors started to creep into his game. At times Murray displayed gladiatorial tennis with his immense power leaving nothing to chance. In the end he was defeated by the vast number of cross court winners, notably the match point where Nadal was virtually off court and found the angle to smash the ball past Murray into the corner. Despite taking an early lead into the final tie breaker, Murray eventually succumbed to Nadal losing 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6).
After showing great promise prior to the tournament Djokovic once again was left on the sidelines watching the world’s top two playing for the championship. He was comprehensively beaten by Federer in the semi-finals and failed to put on the kind of performance that has enabled him to become a grand slam winner in the past. With Andy Roddick just making the cut to be part of the world’s top 8, he showed plenty of courage to give Nadal a run for his money in his opening game taking it to three sets, but ultimately failed to give the kind of overall performance so many have come to expect from him.
The tournament as a whole was a resounding success with almost full capacity during every match played during the week. With London signed up to host the event for a few more years yet, the event can go only get better. The only question that lingers is that with Federer and Nadal once again left to try and oust the other for the championship, will other competitors get a look in?