Finally, we are back in London for the last tournament of the season. The Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. This tournament has been holding up the rear of the tennis season for a while now and it is symbolic for a number of reasons, most of all the fact that it pits the best eight players in the world, against each other. That makes each match a bit like the second week Monday at Wimbledon… also in England.
But before we get into the happenings at the Tour Finals, we’ll start with some of the rather entertaining stuff that’s been happening at this rear end of the season. Notice we’ve been using ‘rear’ a lot? There’s a reason… maybe a few 🙂
Move over, William Wallace! Scotland has a new hero in town!
P.S. I absolutely loved Braveheart.
Roger Federer proved that a kilt is no inhibition to his free-flowing game in a hugely successful exhibition match, played in Glasglow against Andy Murray for the Scot’s charity foundation. First of all, it was a joy to see Andy Murray back on a tennis court, even if this was a semi-competitive match. He looked a bit far off from 100% but he looked good and that was encouraging. Federer did his part in providing one of the best exhibition performances (outside of the Laver Cup) this year. He positively looked like a warrior in that kilt and considering his racket head speed, he’d make a formidable warrior with a great sword.
Should the kilt become an official tennis gear for Scotsmen? Well… let’s hope they plan to cover their rear with something. Kilts tend to fly up especially during the service motion.
Federer’s been having a lot of fun since the U.S Open. He’s yet to lose a match since Del Potro defeated him in the quarters and he’s been playing so freely – as stated earlier. He’s also been having a lot of on-court fun both in exhibitions (see the McFederer section above) and in official matches. Before his contest against Jack Sock, I struggled to see how the American could beat him. Yes, Sock had just won his first Masters 1000 title and has been playing the best tennis of his life this year. Yes, Jack Sock has a big serve, a big forehand and imparts some big, wicked spin on the ball, but its nothing the widely acclaimed Greatest of All Time hasn’t handled before. Enter Sock’s big… rear. In the seventh game of the first set, Sock, holding an advantage to win the game on serve, managed to pick up a low pass by Federer, on the half-volley. Realizing the point was all but over, Sock decided to submit to Federer by presenting his rather… ahem… generously sized rear to Federer. The effect was immediate. Federer dumped the easiest of forehands in the net.
Unfortunately, this tactic wasn’t sustainable and Sock eventually lost the match 4 – 6, 6 – 7. But there is an important takeaway from this. Roger Federer, for all his greatness, is vulnerable to sizable rears. Will Sock remember to do this, up break point in a grand slam match against Federer? The benefits of this well-timed play could be enormous… just like Sock’s rear. Okay we’ll move on.
The Jinx Continues
Has any other player had more bad luck at one tournament than Rafael Nadal has had at the Nitto World Tour Finals? For the better part of twelve years, Nadal has qualified for this event, managed to play it about eight times and won it exactly zero times. This year, the trend would continue. An unfortunate knee injury picked up at the Paris Bercy masters tournament, flared up in his first match against David Goffin. Take nothing away from Goffin who played a brilliant match with perfectly weighted aggressive shots and a mix of sharply angled crosscourt darts. He made Nadal move and eventually wore the Spaniard down. That is no easy feat. Still, Nadal went away in the third set as the knee injury apparently worsened. That and an inspired player, were his undoing this year. it is really a shame. The match was the most entertaining of the group matches played so far. Nadal will have to patiently wait another year, to change his fortunes around in this tournament.