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Federer honoured by Edberg in ATP Awards ceremony

Roger Federer has been selected by his peers as winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for a 10th time and by fans as the Fans Favourite for a 12th straight year.

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Federer captures 6th Basel crown, continues No.1 quest

Roger Federer further closed the gap with Novak Djokovic in the battle for No. 1, claiming his 6th Swiss Indoors Basel title 6-2, 6-2 over David Goffin.

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Federer wins elusive Shanghai crown

Roger Federer claimed the elusive Shanghai Rolex Masters crown as he won his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title with a 7-6(6), 7-6(2) victory over Gilles Simon.

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Federer fires Switzerland into Davis Cup final

Roger Federer secured Switzerland's place in the final of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1992 by comfortably beating Italy's Fabio Fognini in Geneva.

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Federer: "I hope to get another chance to lift a Grand Slam"

Federer says that falling just short of claiming an elusive 18th Grand Slam title for the second major in a row won't haunt him, but he would be more than happy to add to his record haul in 2015.

Swiss praise for Bryan brothers' coach

Switzerland captain Severin Luthi's decision to hire Bob and Mike Bryan's coach to help his team prepare for the Davis Cup final doubles match proved to be a masterstroke.

The Swiss team appointed Dave Macpherson as a consultant ahead of the final against France, and his strategic advice paid off as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka beat Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet in straight sets Saturday, giving Switzerland a 2-1 lead.

Macpherson is a former Australian player who has been mentoring the Bryans since 2005. The American twins finished at the top of the doubles rankings for a record 10th time this year, and for the sixth consecutive season.

''I think he's been very helpful for us. We had a good, long conversation about doubles. Not just yesterday and today, but in previous days,'' said Federer after the 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory. ''I'm so happy that Severin had the idea to contact David, and David was ready to jump onboard and help us.''

Federer and Wawrinka, who won Olympic gold together in 2008, ended a four-game losing streak in the Davis Cup at the right time, securing their first doubles win on clay.

They played aggressively from the start against the French pair, taking their chance on every weak second ball and bossing exchanges at the net with a commanding presence.

''I think we were perfectly prepared,'' said Federer. ''Obviously you have to be able to execute it. I think Stan did that unbelievably well today. I tried to keep up. Severin kept us motivated and going. It was a cool last sort of 24 hours.''

The French decided to send Gasquet and Benneteau for the doubles after resting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for Sunday's reverse singles. But Luthi said all their opponents' options had been carefully analyzed.

''We talked about the possibilities the French have,'' Luthi said. ''I think it was a big advantage that David knows all the French players, doubles players in general well ... It was a great preparation.''

Date: 23rd November 2014, Source: AP

Switzerland on the brink of Davis Cup glory after doubles win

Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka took a crucial lead in the 2014 Davis Cup Final on Saturday with a straight-sets defeat of Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet.

The Swiss pair validated captain Severin Luthi’s bold move to put them in for the doubles instead of the nominated Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, defeating Benneteau and Gasquet 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours 12 minutes.

Looking like a different person to the player who lost to Gael Monfils on Friday, Federer was a commanding presence in a match where the visitors gained in stature while the French pair’s resistance faded. Wawrinka continued the high-energy display that saw him defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening match and now the Swiss have a vital 2-1 lead going into Sunday.

It was quite a turnaround for the Swiss in this tense encounter in Lille, Federer and Wawrinka producing a fine performance to show why they were the 2008 Olympic gold medallists. The victory also ended a run of four losses for the pair together in Davis Cup, and marked their first match win on clay.

In contrast Benneteau and Gasquet, playing together in Davis Cup for the first time, never quite found their groove, and were left to rue a cluster of missed opportunities in the second set which could have turned the match had they been taken.

“I'm very happy, of course, that we played so well today.  It's always a pleasure playing with Stan. But I think today we played exceptionally well,” said Federer. “Nothing's won really yet, but clearly it could be a big point.”

On the subject of his back, Federer said he is feeling good after the doubles. “For me I think probably a doubles is a proper test, as well, because you got to keep serve and volleying, be explosive all the time.  Yeah, I'm very relieved to do that, I'm actually feeling really well… So, got one more match tomorrow. I'll try to play my best tomorrow. Hopefully I'll feel fine again.”

Wawrinka, who turned in his second stunning performance in two days, said, “I feel that I'm playing well, good tennis. I'm great on the court, a lot of confidence. You know, I'm here to go for the win, not to expect something else. I need to try everything I have in my racket to win those matches.”

The first set was tight, with entertaining rallies from the start thrilling the 27,360 fans crammed into the Stade Pierre Mauroy, among them French President Francois Hollande. The Swiss got the first chances though on Benneteau’s serve in the sixth game after errors from both Frenchmen gave them two break points.

Benneteau, at No. 5 the man on court with the highest doubles ranking, saved the first break point with a smash but Wawrinka sent a return flying past Gasquet for the Swiss to go 4-2 up. To loud cries of “Hopp Suisse” from the 2,700 visiting fans, Federer and Wawrinka carried that momentum through the remainder of the first set, Federer serving it out after 28 minutes.

Gasquet and Benneteau got their first chance to break in the second game of the second set, capitalising on two failed serve-and-volley attempts by the Swiss pair to bring up 30-40 on Federer’s serve. The Swiss No. 1 got out of trouble with a smash to cries of “Come on!” from the Swiss contingent.

Two games later France had two more break points on Wawrinka’s serve, but couldn’t convert either of them, the home pair twice finding the net cord and having to watch as the ball bounced out on the other side. At 4-4, the hosts got two further chances on the Australian Open champion’s serve. The first was set up by a Benneteau winner that fizzed between Federer and Wawrinka, but Federer cleared it with a high backhand smash for deuce; the second came after Wawrinka sent a forehand wide, but the world No. 4 produced a 145 mph serve to hold and subdue the home crowd.

Those five break points in the middle of the second set were to be the last chances Benneteau and Gasquet could muster as the Swiss piled on the pressure to get two more break points on Benneteau’s serve at 5-4. The French got out of trouble there, but two games later the Swiss broke Gasquet for a 6-5 lead before Wawrinka served out the second set to love.

The Swiss looked ever more comfortable, benefiting from Swiss captain Luthi’s decision to hire David Macpherson, coach of doubles world No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan, as a consultant to the team for the tie. Benneteau and Gasquet’s lack of recent matches both individually and as team was increasingly a factor for the hosts. The pair won a bronze doubles medal together at London 2012 but hadn’t played together competitively since March 2013, and last teamed on clay in 2007.

Federer and Wawrinka had their first opportunity of the third set on Gasquet’s serve in the third game but the French saved two break points to keep hanging on. But at 2-2 the Swiss got three more break points on the Benneteau serve, with Wawrinka sealing the crucial break at the third time of asking with a forehand between the French pair.

Serving to stay in the match at 4-5, Benneteau hit the first two double faults of the match to give the Swiss their first match point. France managed to cling on to make Switzerland serve for the match and Federer swiftly followed through, serving out to love as Wawrinka sealed the vital win with a cross court backhand volley.

“I could have played better,” said Gasquet afterwards. "I was not able to make the breakpoints I had in the second set. If we would have had a break, of course that doesn't mean we would have won, but we would have been in a better position for winning this second set where we had five breakpoints.

“I’m disappointed with the match, but the opponents played extremely well. They are extremely strong. They had very good returns. They played very interesting combinations. It was impressive.”

The Swiss are now one win away from winning the Davis Cup for the first time in history, with Federer able to clinch it if he can defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first reverse singles on Sunday. But amid rumours of an arm injury to Tsonga, both teams have until one hour before the match to make substitutions.

“Of course it's going to be very, very difficult now, with a lot of hope in these doubles,” said French captain Arnaud Clement. “We have to do something big, very big. We still have a chance, and we're going to try as hard as possible.  It's a big challenge, big challenge for us, to beating No. 2 and 4 in the world in the final of Davis Cup.”

“But even if we have a little chance, we're going to try.”

Date: 23rd November 2014, Source: Davis Cup

Beaten Federer consoled by shaking 'ghost' off his back

Despite his defeat by Gael Monfils in Friday's second singles rubber of the Davis Cup final, Roger Federer found something to smile about as the Swiss got "a ghost" off his back.

The 17-times grand slam champion, who lost 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 as France drew level 1-1 following Stan Wawrinka's opening victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, explained that the recent discomfort he felt in his back began to ease the longer the contest went on.

"It wasn't all negative. I started to feel better as the match went on. That's very encouraging," Federer told a news conference.

"You don't have to be in unbelievably excruciating pain but it takes a while for it to leave your mind. It's like a ghost.

"But that's why it was good for me to play three sets today. It definitely gives us a lot of information. I would think that I'm going to get better as the weekend goes on."

Switzerland captain Severin Luthi now has to decide whether to pair Federer and Wawrinka in Saturday's doubles.

He named Michael Lammer and Marcio Chiudinelli at Thursday's draw and has until one hour before the match to change his lineup.

Asked if he was able to play three days in a row, Federer sounded optimistic.

"I would be ready to do that if, as ever, it's the best choice," he said.

"I know there are less risks than a few days ago, or less than this morning, so I'm making myself available for the team as much as I can, 100 percent, not only as a player but in whatever role I can play," added Federer.

"I'm there to support them and support the team. This is what I always do."

Wawrinka said he was ready to play on Saturday when the Swiss pair will face Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau unless France captain Arnaud Clement decides to replace the latter with Tsonga.

"I'm always ready to play everything. But we'll do like we always do...we'll discuss and see where we are," said Wawrinka who was impressive in his 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Tsonga.

Date: 21st November 2014, Source: Reuters

France levels tie against Switzerland in Davis Cup

Roger Federer's valiant attempt to shake off a back injury backfired spectacularly when the Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion was swept aside by Gael Monfils Friday as France leveled the Davis Cup final at 1-1 on Friday.

Monfils triumphed 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and posted his first win on clay over Federer, who decided to play despite the injury that forced him to pull out of the title match at the ATP World Tour Finals last Sunday.

Federer had only two short training sessions earlier this week and looked out of sorts while Monfils hit 44 winners including 10 aces. The Swiss, who is chasing a maiden win in the team competition, dropped his serve five times and could not convert the two break points he earned.

It was a stark contrast to Federer's superb display in London last week, where he eased past opponents but hurt his back during his semifinal victory over Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka. Federer, however, said switching from hard court to clay and being short of practice was the main reason for his loss, rather than pain.

''Clearly I did feel, not having hit and played and moved at all for five days, and Gael did play well,'' he said. ''It's not like I couldn't play at all. It was a proper match, and he was the better player at the end.''

Federer believes he needs to spend more time on court to rediscover his game and is ready for Saturday's doubles.

''I would be ready to do that if ever it's the best choice,'' the 33-year-old said. ''As I said before, I'm waiting for better things this weekend. I'm coming out of the match without any pain, which is good, too. It was not a five setter with me totally exhausted.''

Earlier, Wawrinka had put the Swiss ahead by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Monfils sealed his win in less than two hours on his first match point with a backhand down the line, getting a measure of revenge after his tough loss to the Swiss in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, when the Frenchman lost in five sets after going up two sets to one and failing to convert two match points.

If Federer plays the doubles, he will be teaming up with Wawrinka. The Australian Open champion started strong against Tsonga and overcame a second-set lapse by regaining control of the opening singles match with an aggressive display that paid off.

Wawrinka, who scored 25 points at the net, closed out the match with a winning volley, then pointed to his head with his index finger, his trademark celebration gesture.

''My strength is playing aggressive, I could not win that match staying on the baseline,'' he said. ''I had to come forward.''

Wawrinka took control of rallies with his deep groundstrokes. He converted his second break point for a 3-1 lead as he won eight consecutive points and took the Frenchman's serve again.

Tsonga had to fight hard in the opening game of the second set to hold after saving another break point with a fierce smash.

Wawrinka did not react but his play dropped off while Tsonga started to serve better. He put the Swiss under pressure in the fourth game with a series of good returns and Wawrinka handed him the break with a double fault.

Tsonga stayed in control to level the tie at one set apiece but showed his nerves in the sixth game of the third set, hitting three unforced errors including a double fault to drop his serve.

The fourth-ranked Swiss continued to put Tsonga on the back foot by taking all the risks on his opponent's second serve and broke immediately with another superb backhand at the start of the fourth set. He frustrated Tsonga with a series of backhand and forehand winners in the seventh game as the Frenchman dropped his serve again.

"I was confident. I showed him on the court that I was better than he was," said Wawrinka.

Tsonga agreed with his rival.

"Stan was good today. He played a good match. That's it. There is nothing to say really," he said.

Switzerland is bidding for its first Davis Cup title, while France is seeking its 10th. This is the 13th meeting between the teams, with France leading 10-2.

Date: 21st November 2014, Source: AP

Federer to face Monfils in Davis Cup final

Saying he has recovered from a back injury, Roger Federer has the chance to finally win one of the only notable titles missing from his collection.

Federer will play Gael Monfils on Friday in the second singles match as Switzerland takes on France in the final of the Davis Cup.

Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will open the best-of-five series on indoor clay against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in this northern French city.

Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, was doubtful for the final after injuring his back last week during his three-set win over Wawrinka in the semifinals at the ATP finals in London. The injury forced him to pull out of the title match against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Federer said a final practice session hours before Thursday's draw convinced him he would be able to step on court Friday. Whether he is 100 percent fit remains uncertain.

''We'll see tomorrow how it goes, but I practiced well today... and I was really pleased to see that I was able to give it a go,'' the second-ranked Federer said.

''If there was a risk it would impact the rest of my life, obviously I would not play,'' he added. ''But I had similar problems in the past and I can draw from that experience to know what I can actually do.''

Along with an Olympic gold medal in singles, a Davis Cup title is the only major hole in the 33-year-old Federer's resume.

Switzerland is bidding for its first Davis Cup title, while France is seeking its 10th. This is the 13th meeting between the two nations, with France leading 10-2.

The doubles on Saturday will pit French pair Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, but team captains can change their lineup up to one hour before the match. If Federer is judged fit enough to play over three days, he is expected to be picked for the doubles alongside Wawrinka.

In the reverse singles Sunday, Federer will play Tsonga, and Wawrinka will face Monfils in the potentially decisive fifth match.

Federer's presence is a huge boost for the Swiss team, which has won just one of the 10 ties it has played without him in the top-tier World Group since his debut in the competition.

The French players played down Federer's injury, saying they never thought he would withdraw from the tie at the 27,000-capacity Pierre Mauroy Stadium.

''He had a four-day rest period,'' said Monfils, who has never beaten Federer on clay in four matches. ''Just before that he was playing his best tennis ever. If he's there, it's because he feels good and he wants to win this competition. If Roger decided to play, it's because he feels he's able to win the match, to beat me.''

Monfils is preparing for a rematch of his epic quarterfinal against Federer at the U.S. Open in September, when the Frenchman lost in five sets after going up two sets to one and failing to convert two match points.

''For sure I will have this special match in my mind,'' Monfils said. ''But this one will be different. You have someone with whom you can share your emotions during the match: the captain, who can help me if maybe I'm tight in the match.''

French captain Arnaud Clement said Monfils' current form was the decisive factor when he picked him over Richard Gasquet.

Wawrinka, meanwhile, said he has recovered faster than expected from his loss to Federer in London last Saturday, when he wasted four match points.

''It was easier than I thought,'' Wawrinka said. ''First I was destroyed, and it was difficult on Sunday, too, when I learned about Roger's injury. But when I came here on Monday, something really positive started, and I was surprised how easy it was to switch.''

Date: 20th November 2014, Source: AP

All smiles in Swiss camp despite Federer fitness race

There have been two questions on everyone’s lips ahead of the 2014 Davis Cup Final at the Stade Mauroy in Lille this weekend.

How is Roger Federer’s back and how is the morale in the Swiss camp after Saturday’s semifinal match between Federer and Stan Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals in London?

The first, it seems, is a lot harder to answer than the second.

Speaking about his ailment at the pre-draw press conference in Lille on Tuesday, the 17-time Grand Slam champion said: “It's definitely not good enough to practice. I wish progress would be faster, but we're trying hard. But I know I don't have a month ahead of me to get better. I need to get better quickly. But I can't give you a precise percentage.

“We're heading in that direction. I feel it's definitely a little bit better than it was on Saturday night and Sunday and also Monday. I wish I could be on the practice courts, but I can't be there yet. I'm hopeful for tomorrow.”

And in response to questions about the relationship between the Swiss No. 1 and his long-time friend and teammate, Federer had this to say: “We had a conversation after the match. Everything's totally relaxed about the situation. There's no hard feelings whatsoever. We're having a good time here. We are friends, not enemies.”

Amid all the media frenzy about Federer’s back injury, Wawrinka quietly put in some of the best tennis of his season at the year-end finals in London and finding form at the right time for the Swiss No. 2 could prove pivotal in the Davis Cup Final against France.

“For me, the week at the ATP World Tour Finals was big,” reflected Wawrinka . Was really important, for sure. It’s not easy, especially to have four match points against Roger, to be playing the way I was playing.

“It's more easy to think about the next step, what I'm going to do after, stay positive, when I give everything on the court. Even if I lost with match point, the week was amazing. Now I need to adapt on the clay court. I did a long session today, almost three hours, yesterday one hour easy. I feel okay so far, so we'll see.”

For the French team, speculation about Federer’s participation in this year’s final is proving an unwelcome distraction and one that captain Arnaud Clement dismissed.

“We are not thinking that Roger Federer will not play on Friday,” said Clement. “We have been preparing for 10 days, and we are prepared to play the Swiss team with Federer and Wawrinka in it.

“Many people asked questions about Federer, even before he pulled out on Sunday. But what we are going to play is not Federer's team, it is the Swiss team.”

The only certainty in Clement’s mind was the fact that this weekend’s final was going to be an emotional and spine-tingling affair for the players as they compete in front of 27,000 fans, most of whom will be wearing the blue of the home team.

Clement added:  “Davis Cup is a different atmosphere. But I don't feel my players are frightened by anything. On the contrary, they're very excited.

“What will be even more exciting will be to see the stadium totally full with the crowd. It's going to be totally different, for all of us, for the players, and the Swiss players, too.”

The final starts on Friday 21 November at 2pm local time (1pm GMT).

Date: 19th November 2014, Source: Davis Cup

Federer and Wawrinka play down London row

With the Davis Cup final against France looming, Roger Federer and his Swiss team mate Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday played down talk of an internal row, sparked by the pair's fiery clash at the ATP World Tour Finals last week.

During their semi-final encounter in London, which Federer won 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), TV footage showed Wawrinka asking Federer’s box to keep quiet between serves and complaining to chair umpire Cedric Mourier that his opponent's wife Mirka had heckled him.

Both players, however, talked down the incident at a news conference in Lille, where the Davis Cup final will be played on clay from Friday to Sunday.

"We had a conversation after the match. Everything's totally relaxed about the situation. We're old enough. We have Severin (Luthi) as a coach and Davis Cup captain and friend who was there, as well,” Federer said.

"I just wanted to see if there was any hard feelings because it was probably one of the loudest moments of the match, around 5-4, 5-5 score. Clearly a lot of noise.

"Yeah, like I said, there's no hard feelings whatsoever. We're having a good time here. We are friends, not enemies. But obviously it was maybe one of those moments, heat-of-the-moment situation.”

Wawrinka said: “I think first thing, we had no problem together. We talked about that already straight after the match. Not only about that, about many things. We know how to deal when we have a small thing like that.

"There's not much to say because it's become a big deal because of the press, because of you. But for us it's nothing really. It took us five minutes to talk about that and to think about the next main goal that we have - the Davis Cup this weekend."

Date: 18th November 2014, Source: Reuters

Federer in Davis Cup fitness battle

Switzerland's hopes of a first ever Davis Cup win lay in the balance on Monday as the team awaited word on just how badly Roger Federer had injured his back ahead of this week's final against France in Lille.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner shocked thousands of fans and his opponent Novak Djokovic in London Sunday evening when he withdrew from the final of the season-ending World Tour Championship saying he was not match fit.

Ironically the player who helped inflict the back injury on the Swiss great was none other than Davis Cup teammate and close friend Stan Wawrinka.

The two played a thrilling, but punishing three hour semi-final on Saturday evening which Federer, 33, won in three gruelling sets, saving four match points along the way.

Later in an on-court interview he told a hushed crowd that he had tried everything to be able to play in the prestigious tournament.

"I tried everything I could last night and today - painkillers, rest - until the very end, but I can't compete at this level with Novak. In a final like this and at my age, it would be too risky. I hope you understand."

What was not clear, however, was just how badly injured he is. Federer has a history of back pain, but until last weekend he had been injury-free throughout a season in which he has played some superb tennis.

He is hoping that the back spasms he felt will clear over the next couple of days, allowing him to be able to begin adapting to the indoor claycourt that France as hosts have chosen for the final.

There was some astonishment in the French press over how hard Federer and Wawrinka had gone at it in London, knowing that the Davis Cup final was only a few days away.

Australian Open winner Wawrinka admitted that he could suffer psychologically and physically from the heart-breaking loss and there were unconfirmed reports of some friction between the two after the match.

Swiss press reports said that Wawrinka had been irked by someone sitting in Federer's box with suggestions it could have been his wife Mirka.

Former great and now television commentator John McEnroe, meanwhile, spoke of the two Swiss players having a long and tense discussion in the locker-room afterwards.

Whatever the truth was there, a Federer withdrawal from the Lille contest would be a huge and potentially lethal body blow to Swiss hopes.

Wawrinka at fourth is comfortably ranked above all the French players, but after him the fall off in the Swiss team is steep with Marco Chiudinelli 212th and Michael Lammer 508th.

In stark contrast it was all plain sailing for the French who are seeking a 10th Davis Cup title in all and a first since 2001.

Captain Arnaud Clement cloistered his team of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and reserve Gilles Simon in Bordeaux where they honed their claycourt skills away from prying eyes. Doubles specialist Julien Benneteau, who was playing in the doubles in London, was to link up with them in Lille.

Coach Lionel Roux said the team would not be distracted by the doubts surrounding Federer's participation.

"I don't think Roger's injury is too serious," he said. "If he really can't play in the Davis Cup it would be very sad. But in my view it was just preventative.

"Looking at the TV footage of his semi-final I saw no signs of him being badly injured. He was struggling a bit only because it had been such a tough match.

"All the players are carrying injuries by the end of the season and we know that Roger has had problems with his back before.

"But he is a real pro and he simply weighed up the pros and the cons and decided against playing the final."

Date: 17th November 2014, Source: AFP

Federer pulls out of ATP Finals with back injury

In a potential blow to Switzerland's Davis Cup ambitions, Roger Federer pulled out of the ATP World Your Finals less than one hour before his title match against Novak Djokovic on Sunday, handing a third straight title at the year-end event to the top-ranked Serb.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion said he hurt his back in the nearly three-hour semifinal win over Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka on Saturday night in which Federer saved four match points.

"Unfortunately, I'm not match fit to play the match tonight," said Federer on court. "Clearly I wish it wasn't so. I tried all year to be ready for the ATP World Tour Finals, and I didn't want it to end this way. I tried everything I could last night, also today - painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end - but I just can't compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.

"I wanted to come out personally and excuse myself. It's been a great week for me. I played some great tennis and I love coming to The O2 and to London, and there's been so many great memories for me here. Congrats of course to Novak, who’s played an amazing season, and an amazing tournament here as well. I hope we can play some more great matches, hopefully next year.

"Thanks to all you guys for making it special to come out and play tennis all around the world. I know you guys travel, as well, and spend a lot of money on tickets and so forth. We really, really appreciate it - me in particular. It keeps me going, it makes me tick, especially at this age. Hopefully, I can come back next year and get another chance to compete for the title here. So thank you very much and I'll see you soon. I appreciate it."

It is only the third time in Federer’s career that he has been forced to withdraw, each time due to a back injury - also walkovers at 2008-Paris QFs vs. Blake and 2012 Doha SFs vs. Tsonga.

Fans appeared to be supportive with applause for Federer when he spoke.

The Swiss is set to play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup final against France, starting Friday. If he recovers in time, Federer will be chasing the only major trophy still eluding him. France hosts the match in the northern city of Lille and has opted for clay, a slow surface that could further thwart Federer's chances to perform well.

''I don't think he was calculating and trying to save his body for Davis Cup final,'' said Djokovic. ''This is probably the biggest match of the season next to the final of a Grand Slam. I spoke to him, it's a question mark for the Davis Cup final as well.

''You never like to win, especially these big matches against big rivals, with the retirement,'' said Djokovic.

"I feel sorry for Roger. I've been in tennis 10 years and I know Roger and Rafa have been the biggest competitors and always give their 100 percent. If Roger could have come out and played he would have played," said Djokovic when he was presented with the trophy.

"I wish him all the best for his recovery, he has an important week ahead of him with the Davis Cup final."

Following back problems that ruined his 2013 season, Federer enjoyed a superb resurgence this season, losing to Djokovic in an epic Wimbledon final and adding five new titles to his collection.

Federer, the most successful player at the ATP Finals with six wins, also made it to the semifinals at the Australian Open and the U.S. Open and won his 23rd Masters title in Shanghai last month. He remained on course for the year-end No. 1 spot until this week and had dropped just one set on the way to the final.

''I think you have some recurrent things coming back from time to time,'' the second-ranked Federer said. ''It's not that much of a surprise. I must say I've been feeling really good for over a year now, which has been not a surprise, but it's been very nice. So this back spasm, whatever it might be, it's just not a fun thing to have during the day. It's just uncomfortable. But I'm positive and I'm hopeful that it's going to go away very soon.''

To appease disappointed fans, home favorite Andy Murray, thrashed by Federer in the week, agreed to play Djokovic in a one-set exhibition match, before partnering John McEnroe in a doubles game against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

Federer now faces a battle to be fit for the Davis Cup final against France which starts in Lille on Friday.

Along with the Olympic singles title, the Davis Cup is the major honor which still eludes the 17-times grand slam champion, with Switzerland's hopes resting on the shoulders of him and Wawrinka.

"The way I feel right now there's no way I can compete at any level really," Federer said. "Probably in a few days it's going to be better."

Date: 16th November 2014, Source: AP and Reuters

Federer saves 4 M.P. to set up Djokovic final

Roger Federer won the match of the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday night, saving four match points in a pulsating comeback victory, to keep alive his hopes of clinching the season finale title for a record seventh time.

Federer, who will play year-end ATP World Tour No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday's blockbuster final, came back from the brink of defeat to beat his Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka, the third seed, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6) in two hours and 48 minutes at The O2 in London.

“I thought it was a very exciting match, to say the least,” said Federer, at his press conference close to 1 a.m. local time Sunday. “I think the crowd got really into it. “I really didn't think I was going to turn it around anymore because Stan looked very good for a long time, was able to win the second set somehow by hanging around. Then in the third, I think he played very well. Maybe a serve let him go a little bit when he needed it the most.

“I was frustrated being down in the third… I clearly got lucky tonight. There's no doubt about that. But you've got to keep believing that maybe there is a slight chance that you are going to be able to turn it around somehow. It happened today. I'm very pleased. It's very hard, obviously, against Stan.”

It marked the third time Federer had saved match points and won at the season finale. The Basel native saved three against Andy Roddick in 2006 and two in a win over Andre Agassi in 2003. He would go on to win the title both years. Federer hopes his latest escape act will be a good omen once again as he eyes a seventh crown at the year-end championships.

Heading into a record-equalling ninth season finale, World No. 2 Federer leads Djokovic 19-17 in their ATP Head to Head series. But Djokovic is unbeaten in his past 31 indoor matches.

Wawrinka appeared on course to cap a career-best season with a spot in his 17th tour-level final, but he could not convert four match point opportunities in the deciding set at 5-4, 40/30 and two at Ad In; then a fourth at 6/5 in the tie-break. Federer converted his first match point chance at 7/6 with a drop volley to improve to 15-2 lifetime against his Swiss friend.

Federer has won five titles in 10 finals this year.  The 33-year-old superstar is five victories shy of becoming just the third player (after Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl) in the Open Era to record 1,000 career match wins.

Wawrinka dominated the opening exchanges, breaking Federer's serve in the fifth and seventh games, and controlled baseline rallies. Although Federer got one break back, at 2-5, Wawrinka kept his nerve. He won all 10 of his first service points to clinch the 35-minute opener.

The pressure fell on Wawrinka in the second set, when he served second. Federer pressed hard, yet he could not convert three break point opportunities at 3-2. Wawrinka’s unforced error count soared to 28 in their 17th meeting. At 5-6, Wawrinka hit two groundstrokes and one smash into the net to drop his serve to love.

In the first game of the third set, Federer did not clearly register the score. When 0/40 was called, he questioned the chair umpire. He thought it was 15/30, thinking an earlier call had gone his way. Wawrinka capitalised to break and, despite saving two break points at 4-3, 30/40 and Ad out, looked set to cling on and maintain the advantage to record his 39th match win of the season. But Federer was not finished.

Wawrinka could not convert his first match point opportunity at 5-4, 40/30, when, out of position, he came into the net only to see Federer rifle a forehand winner down the line. Wawrinka then saved a break point, after a lengthy rally, with a backhand crosscourt winner. Controlling his nerves, he kept coming forward. But once again he could not convert his second match point chance, backhand volleying into the net. A third chance came and went, with Federer ruthlessly striking a short forehand winner. Ultimately, after 11 minutes of play, Federer got the break when Wawrinka hit a backhand into the net after a long rally.

Federer rallied from 15/40 at 5-5, but Wawrinka regained his composure. In the tie-break, a fourth match point went begging for Wawrinka at 6/5 when he mis-timed a backhand. Federer, under the guidance of former serve and volley master Stefan Edberg, kept the points short by attacking the net. Ultimately, the match clincher, for his 72nd victory of the season, came within feet of the net.

Wawrinka is now 8-3 this year against Top 10 opponents in the ATP Rankings. He ends the season with a 38-17 match record, highlighted by his first Grand Slam championship title at the Australian Open (d. Nadal) in January.

Wawrinka found himself on the losing end of the semi-finals for the second straight year, having fallen to Djokovic in 2013. The World No. 4 had nothing but praise for his compatriot following the match.

“It's always difficult for me not only because he's the best player ever,” said Wawrinka. “He knows how to play. He's playing really well at the end of the year. Because of his game, but also mentally, he's been there for so many years. I was happy the way I was trying to push him, trying to be real aggressive, not let him come to the net too much, trying to be the first there. But sometimes you lose a match like that,” said Wawrinka.

“For sure that game at the end I was nervous. It was not easy to play from the baseline. He was normally just pushing his slice backhand return. I was like, ‘Okay, I'm going to try to take it, try not to wait for a mistake, try to go for it."

“I think there were only few points that made the difference. I was playing great tennis. I was really happy with the way I was playing. But I had some big opportunities in the third set. I should have taken them, especially serving for the match with two match points.”

Next week, Federer and Wawrinka will join forces for Switzerland against France in the Davis Cup final in Lille.

Date: 16th November 2014, Source: ATP