Monday, November 29, 2010

Federer Masters Nadal in Great Season Finale in London

He dazzles, we applaud!

Another long tennis season has come to an end (barring the Davis Cup finals this weekend) and once again, we have Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to thank for keeping it impeccable till its very last moments.

The Masters Cup, or should I say now the ATP World Tour Finals, does not always live up to expectation. Quite often some of the top players choose to skip it as they try to recover from injuries in time for the new season only a few weeks away, or simply to regain their energies after a long and exhausting year. Other times, the players opt to participate but the matches are plagued with fatigue and the level of competition feels messed up.

Luckily, this year, none of the above happened and what we got was an excellent week of top-notch tennis that gave a grand finale to a fittingly fantastic season.

If what we saw in London is any indication of how the competition is going to be next year, then I certainly can't wait for the next four weeks to fast-forward because it looks like Nadal, Federer, Murray and Djokovic are all still as hungry as ever for those trophies.

Simply put, Federer ended this year the same way he started it, WITH A BANG! The 29-year-old who opened his 2010 season by winning the Australian Open, spent this past week in London demolishing whichever top-8 player that came his way. An incredible first serve, a blazing forehand, a stronger-than-normal backhand and some aggressive net-play saw the Swiss reaching the final without dropping a set before defeating top-seeded Nadal for the title, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

The way Federer's backhand stayed as solid as ever against Nadal last night was beyond impressive. Even though Federer dropped the second set, it was clear that he was playing at such a high level, it would have been impossible for Nadal to do anything about it after that. Still the way Federer had beaten Djokovic and Murray so easily en route to the final clearly showed that he and Nadal remain at a different level than the rest. Although Murray's performance against Nadal in the semis is definitely commendable, particularly his confidence in front of a Brit-heavy packed O2 Arena.

Kylie Minogue, Diego Maradona, Thierry Henry and Kevin Spacey were amongst many celebrities who showed up at the O2 last week

Which brings me to my true fascination of the O2 Arena. There is no doubt that this last venue change from Shanghai to London has spurred the life into the Masters Cup. The O2 brings everything to this tournament. Glam, location and an electric atmosphere that was lacking when the event was held in Shanghai. Throughout the week, we were graced by the presence of legendary musicians, football stars, movie icons, and even royalty, which am sure had an impact on the players who gave us nothing but their very best. There is no way am missing this event next year, that's for sure.That's exactly how everyone watching from home was thinking during last night's final, which is every indication of how amazing this tournament was organized.

So props to everyone who took part in the World Tour Finals, props to the ever-legendary Federer, props to Nadal for erasing the memory of last year's terrible Finals showing and props to Diego Maradona for attending every single day :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Federer-Djokovic in Basel Final... 2.0

Photo by: Julian Finney/Getty Images, Basel 2009

We all know Federer is classy and all, but he is also one to hold a grudge. Okay maybe a grudge is too big of a word, but what am trying to say is, he never forgets a loss to a certain opponent, especially if that loss was at his home tournament in Basel.

So the Swiss talisman must be thrilled that he carefully took care of business against Andy Roddick in the Basel semis on Saturday, to set up a much-anticipated rematch of last year's final against Novak Djokovic, which Federer had lost in 3 sets.

As the season is coming to its final stages, both Federer and Djokovic are merely 350 points apart in the ATP World Rankings and continue to swap the number 2 and 3 spots each tournament. But way more important for the Swiss than keeping his number 2 ranking, is reclaiming his home title from the person who took it from him last year.

On another note, I wonder how Roddick feels after suffering his 20th loss in 22 meetings against Federer? Only 5 other players in the past 30 years have managed to beat the same opponent 20 times. Frustrating much?!

The Federer-Djokovic final is scheduled at 3pm Swiss time. Don't miss it on Al Jazeera Sport 2.