Federer targets record in London

Roger Federer will aim to finish an off key year on a high note by winning a record sixth title at the ATP World Tour finals which start on Sunday at London’s O2 Arena, a venue more famous for staging the biggest acts in the music business. The world number four, who opens round robin action in the defence of his crown on day one against dangerous Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, is level in the season-ending tournament’s roll of honour with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.

Despite being the oldest player in the eight-man draw, and arriving with his lowest ranking since 2003, few would bet against the Swiss 16-times grand slam champion supplying a show-stopping end to a year dominated by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.

Now in its third year beside the River Thames, the appeal of the tournament has never been higher with more than 250,000 people set to watch eight days of action at the event often dubbed the “fifth” grand slam. “That’s like the equivalent of 15 back-to-back sold-out Beyonce concerts,” managing director Chris Kermode told Reuters by telephone on Thursday as work continued to turn the O2 into one of the most spectacular venues for tennis in the world.

“We have set the bar every high and we are lucky that we’re hosting the tournament in the golden era for men’s tennis. “Often generations have one star player and a supporting cast but we are blessed with four marquee names in Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Ands Murray and then players like Tsonga who is very popular with British fans.

While Federer, like American soul diva Beyonce, just turned 30 and has fallen behind Djokovic, Nadal and Murray in the rankings after a rare year without a major, he is still the biggest draw in the sport.

Successive titles in Basel and Paris in the run-in to London, surprisingly the first time he has won back-to-back tournaments since 2006, proved Federer’s mercurial game and remarkably injury-free body are in good shape as he prepares for his 10th consecutive appearance at the season-ender.

With serious questions over the state of Djokovic’s serving shoulder and Nadal, who is also in Federer’s group along with American debutant Mardy Fish, not enjoying his best year away from his beloved European claycourts, the Swiss is arguably the favourite to claim the title again.

Djokovic, who is a group with Murray, Czech Tomas Berdych and Spain’s David Ferrer, looks to have hit the wall after lifting three of the year’s four grand slam titles and seizing the number one ranking.

Date: 18.11.2011, Source: Reuters


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