Tennis

Roger Federer: Does he have the legs for ATP Finals finale?

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Good old Roger Federer kicked off his campaign for a seventh ATP World Tour Finals title with a scintillating display of his unbeatable best tennis and left a hopeless Milos Raonic reeling in their London opener. Can he keep it up though?

The Swiss legend's win, made to look easy in straight sets 6-1 7-6, was the perfect risposte to his young Canadian opponent after suffering a reverse when they met just a fortnight ago in the Paris Masters. 

Raonic has made his name this year with his trademark lethal serving power, but Federer was able to nullify that and then stroll to the first set in a little under 30 minutes. Even a second set comeback was masterfully quashed by the 33-year-old with a comprehensive tie-break display (7-0) to secure the win in Group B. 

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It means the 17-time Grand Slam champion is already looking likely to reach the semi-finals at least, even with matches against Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori coming up; the latter winning the other match of the group earlier the same day.

On current form, most fans in London - and around the world - would be forgiven for predicting a Federer v Novak Djokovic final already. Can the Swiss star go all the way? - Or will his body fail him on his pathway?

Whatever happens over the next week, 2014 - especially the second half of it - will go down as a fantastic year for Federer. This time 12 months ago things were far less rosy indeed.

However the world no.2 could, and possibly should have won more titles, even though the five he did win certainly aren't there to be sniped at. I say this because he lost as many finals as he won.

FATIGUE FAILURE

It has to be a question of fatigue for the man in his 30s, doesn't it? Just look at the stats; as a youngster he was the master of winning in finals; he won 12 of his first 14 in Grand Slams up till 2008.

As the years have gone by, and with the added competition from Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Federer's ability to go the distance has slightly dipped, and it's only likely to get worse with age. 

Perhaps it's no coincidence that he hasn't won a two-week, best of five set event (Grand Slam) in over two years. 

The beady and critical eyes of some of you will gleefully point-out that the Finals aren't a two week deal, five-setter deal;  but this isn't a normal one-week Masters event - of which he has lost four finals in 2014 anyway. 

NO LET-UP

Unlike the Masters tournaments across the world every year, there are no easy opponents in London, literally everybody has had to win events at some point to qualify here. Federer - nor anybody else - can afford to have an off day, or will be able to get catch a rest  against a lesser opponent.

Even his win over Raonic, as brilliant as it was, showed some causes for concern. The tempo from the first set wasn't maintained by Federer and he'll only continue to struggle in this way, more than most, as the tournament progresses - it's simple science unfortunately; he's the oldest man in the line-up. 

The likes of Murray, Nishikori and whoever comes up in the semis - presuming he makes them - are going to push the former world no.1 hard, you can expect nothing else. 

INTERESTING WEEK

Djokovic, by comparison, is a sprightly 27-year-old and his style is based on wearing opponents down , he always seems to have enough energy to see things out. Just look at his and Federer's Wimbledon final; the latter gave absolutely everything, but it just wasn't enough against the current world no.1.  

I think the O2 Arena crowd would love to see the Swiss star win, his support was vociferous as always, but to see their hero go all the way and win... it could be one dream too far.  

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Topics:
ATP World Tour Finals
Roger Federer
Tennis

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