Updates from the WTF

  • Rafa’s out of London, following a loss to Tsonga.  He’s en route to Sevilla, to join his team mates for the Davis Cup final.  I have a few thoughts on this, mainly–Really, Rafa?  Really?  You were supposed to win London, therefore checking this title off your list.  Instead, you’re going to enter revenge-mode and prize the cookie out of Argentina’s hands, aren’t you?  Sigh.
  • Meanwhile, compatriot Ferru reached the SFs, despite a three-set loss to Berdy.  Of the top 8 men, Ferru was the only one who entered London without being accompanied by his parents.  While that served as a blessing in his first two RR matches, the hot pink jersey Ferru changed into during his 3rd match against Berdy cancelled out the positive effects.  Berdy’s victory earned him a spot in the SFs.  Also, Berdy’s parents were in attendance, which reminded me of the time Berdy remarked that his father often stays up late to live scoreboard his matches, when they’re not televised (live scoreboarding involves frantically staring at the scoreboard on the ATP site.  It’s the bottom level for any tennis fan.  For a Berdy fan, it must be sheer torture).
  • Speaking of parents, Robert Federer was by Roger’s side at the Arsenal football match in London.  Roger attended with fellow Gillette endorser and former Arsenal star, Thierry Henry.  Below is an entertaining clip of Robert Federer (left) demolishing a hot dog while Roger listens to Henry’s musings (via @naturelle13)

  • Tipsy (sub for Murray, who withdrew following a groin injury) pulled off a rare victory over Djokovic, which sent the no. 1 out of the WTF.  Djokovic didn’t seem too perturbed by his early loss, which brought his season to a 70-6 finish.  On W-L numbers, his season isn’t the greatest ever (McEnroe’s 82-3 and Fed’s 92-5 are far more worthy contenders).  In the interests of fairness, all the credit to him for a great 3 quarters–three GSs and 5 Masters titles is an impressive haul and 2011 was his banner year.

In spite of the lengthy season and the rash of injuries plaguing the top men, I’m not fully convinced by the journalists who argue that this necessarily devalues the WTF.  After all, Ferru’s played almost as many matches as anyone this year and he’s still on a tear.  Even if Rafa is out this year, he managed to reach the final in 2010 (after winning 3 Grand Slams).  Of course there’s Fed, who managed 3 Grand Slams + WTF on three separate occasions.

I guess I just want to make the counterpoint that the tennis season is also a test of fitness and endurance (Ferru comes to mind here).  Even the top players will fail that test on occasion.  While the schedule does need to be shortened, I’m not sure the injuries devalue this year’s WTF to a significant extent.  As for the argument that the WTF is altogether useless, that’s a statement 5-time winners Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer would likely object to.  For perspective’s sake, there was a time when the finals at Masters (including the WTF) were best-of-5 matches and none of the top seeds received first-round byes.

The question of the slower surface at the O2 arena is another contributor to the lackluster play this year, as was the case in Paris and Valencia.  Notwithstanding the complaints about the schedule and the slower surfaces though, the remaining contenders–Federer, Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych–will face off in the SF, which will hopefully bring out the best each player has to offer.

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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8 Responses to Updates from the WTF

  1. queridorafa says:

    Thank you for bringing my attention to the Roger/Roger’s dad/Thierry Henry clip! I will treasure it always… 😉

  2. You have a very good point about the fact that the tennis season is a test of fitness and endurance, and this year’s What the Fu…I mean the World Tour Finals has certainly showed us who is fit and who is among the walking wounded.

    I agree that the injuries don’t necessarily devalue the WTF’s, though they certainly make it a lot less interesting. I don’t think the inury makes the champion less of a champion; you play the man in front of you. However, if the goal of the ATP is to have an exciting final tournament, it wants to have the best in the world be there and be in relatively good shape. Of course, to be fair, that is not entirely in their control, as Rafa’s food poisoning incident reminds us. Crazy things will always happen. But the tennis season/Bataan Death March is nothing if not a test of fitness and endurance, and once again Federer passes that test with flying colors.

    • To be honest, while Federer passed the test, I’m not sure I did. The end of the season does start to drag, and I’ve found myself getting tired of the season. I need a break! Tennis, how can I miss you if you never leave?!

      • mariposaxprs says:

        I’m looking forward to the day Roger releases his own autobiography (I hope he does). I’d seriously like to learn more about his fitness regimen and how he manages to stay in top shape for so many years.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It does seem like a Bataan Death March at times, right? I feel my attention span wavering when I’m *watching* a match, so I can’t imagine how tough it would be for the actual players on the court (both physically and mentally).

      I feel like ever since the USO, there have been more high-profile injuries and retirements this year. The drop in level at the round-robin matches was definitely noticeable. I think it’s a real shame that Rafa got hit with the food poisoning this week. I really wanted to see him do well on the indoor HCs and him going far in the tournament would have done wonders for his confidence too.

      I wonder if next year will be better. The season’s supposed to be shorter by 2 weeks in 2012. I’m hoping those 2 weeks, as meagre as they sound, make some sort of a difference for the players. You’re def right that the RR matches at the WTF were boring on occasion, and it’d be better for the tourny’s prospects if players arrived fresher.

  3. ariennalee says:

    Nicely said:
    “Of course there’s Fed, who managed 3 Grand Slams + WTF on three separate occasions.
    I guess I just want to make the counterpoint that the tennis season is also a test of fitness and endurance (Ferru comes to mind here).”
    You’ve persuaded me to see the other side!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Haha, I think Ferru deserves so much more attention than he normally gets. I think he’s right up there with Djokovic and Rafa in total matches played this year. And his style of play, with the grinding and the long rallies, must be very tough on the body. Of course, Ferru hasn’t faced as many high-pressure situations as Rafa or Novak, but it’s startling to see him so healthy and fit at the end of the year.

      Roger’s fitness at his “ripe old tennis age” is an unsolvable mystery, but Ferru’s even more so! That said, this year’s USO and WTF are definitely in the evidence pile for why the tennis season needs to be shortened. I wonder if next year will be any different.

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