Roger Federer Declares ‘Full Steam Ahead’ As He Hits Back At Critics Of The ATP Finals
LONDON: Roger Federer managed to demonstrate his fighting spirit both on and off the court at the ATP Finals within a matter of hours.
Opening up the 48th edition of the season-ending event in London, he held his nerve to edge out Jack Sock 6-4, 7-6(4), in two tightly contested sets. Despite never facing a break point on his own serve, the 36-year-old was provided with plenty of food for thought by his American opponent. Overall, he hit 28 winners to 23 unforced errors, as well as producing five aces.
“I think we’re all going to start playing better every round that goes by.” Federer explained. “It’s just still early days in the tournament. Can’t expect to play your best against the best players in the world in that first match.”
Federer was playing in his first match on the tour since winning the Basel Open. Leading up to the Tour Finals, he withdrew from the Paris Masters and missed out on the chance of finishing the year as world No.1. At the time he declared that his body ‘needed a break.’
The Swiss player admits that his two-week recovery took ‘a long time.’ Although he his seeking solace in his win over Sock, which is his 12th victory against a top-10 player this season. Overall, Federer has lost just four matches in 2017.
“This is the best I’ve felt since the del Potro finals. I’m very happy to see that I didn’t have to pay the price for taking it easy resting, recovering.” He said.
“But then turning it up the last few days got me in shape for today.
“Now I think I’m in the tournament. Now there’s no more turning back. Just full steam ahead every match that comes.”
Love for London
It is blatant as to why the focus of the 19-time grand slam champion has been on the season finale in London. Hosted at the O2 Arena since 2009, he has featured in five out of the eight previous finals. Critics argue that that surface of the event should be changed more regularly to make it more fair. The tournament will be held at the venue until at least 2020 with players playing on an indoor hard court.
“Could it be switched up to clay once in a while? Yeah, maybe.” Federer admits. “Could we have more 1000s on grass? Yeah, we could have that, too. Could we have less on clay, more or hard courts? Could we have more or hard courts, less on clay? Yes, it’s all debatable.”
“I think it’s not the time of the year for clay, so there you have it. You can do indoor clay, I guess, but that’s a bit silly.”
Whilst the surface remains the same, it doesn’t mean the conditions are. Some players have noted that the speed of the court has increased, drawing praise from the world No.2. In the past the tournament has been marred by a series of one-sided matches. Last year 17 out of 27 matches played was decided in straight sets.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because we did see some very one-sided matches in the past.” Federer commented about the speed of the court. “I don’t know what the reason was, if it was just a fluke that it happened to be that way or actually just that the better baseliner just really outplayed the other.”
“I think it’s going to keep the results closer to one another.” He later added.
This year Federer is bidding to win a record seventh title at the ATP Finals. In the tournament’s history, he holds the record for the most wins (53), the most appearances (15) and has a prize money record of $15,349,000 (prior to this week).