BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2012
Djokovic Wins Second Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Trophy In Dramatic Fashion
by James Buddell|
Novak Djokovic captured his sixth title of the season on Monday, ending another stunning year with his second Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophy. The top seed defeated second seed and six-time champion Roger Federer 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 15 minutes in London, which saw a record 263,229 spectators watch tennis at The O2.
Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, presented Djokovic the singles trophy and a cheque for $1,760,000 as an unbeaten champion in five matches this week. ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett also congratulated the two-time year-end World No. 1, who also earned 1,500 South African Airways ATP Rankings points. World No. 2 Federer, now 6-2 lifetime in finals at the season-ending championships, received $800,000 and 800 points. Djokovic now trails Federer 13-16 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. It was only the fourth time in the 43-year history of the event that the World No. 1 has met the World No. 2 for the title.
“It's very satisfying for my team and myself to conclude this fantastic season with a [Barclays ATP] World Tour Finals win,” said Djokovic. “I never got to the finals of this tournament in London. The furthest I got is semi-finals a couple years ago where I lost straight sets to Roger. I wasn't really feeling this surface very well in past couple of years. But this year has been different. I got motivated, got a little bit more physically fresh. I wanted really to fight and I really wanted to get as far as I can in this tournament. Winning all the matches I played makes it even more special.”
The 25-year-old Djokovic is the ninth player to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at least twice. He beat Nikolay Davydenko for the 2008 title in 2008, when the event was held in Shanghai, China. Djokovic completes the 2012 season with a personal-best 75-12 match record. He also improved to 50-5 on hard courts and to a 24-10 mark against Top 10 opponents.
“I was playing really great tennis throughout the whole week. Tonight, whenever I needed to, to I came up with some really good shots. [I] really focus myself to get every ball back in the court. So I cannot be more thrilled than I'm feeling now.”
Wearing a regal purple-coloured shirt, Federer was relaxed and composed right from the start of the pair’s 29th meeting. Having practised with Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain, three hours earlier, Federer’s game was fluent as he played on the baseline to dictate the early exchanges. Djokovic, by contrast, found himself pinned in the Ad court, leaving half the court exposed. Through the first four games, Federer had hit six forehand winners, having broken Djokovic to love for a 2-0 lead.
“I was just trying to hang in there,” said Djokovic, on being 0-3 down in the first set. “It's not the first time that Roger [has] started against me so well. I've experienced before his aggression, really trying to put his mark on the match. I didn't know in which direction the match would really go, but I tried to convince myself that I would make a turnaround and I will fight."
In a seven-minute fourth game, Djokovic withstood a stern examination to stay in touch. Perspiring heavily, he conjured up the confidence and discipline to break back for 2-3, after Federer hit a backhand long at 30/40. In the eighth game, lasting nine minutes and 20 seconds, Federer committed six unforced errors, mainly on his forehand wing, and failed to convert four game points before Djokovic broke serve. Both players were deliberately engaging one another in backhand rallies as each attempted to establish their baseline dominance.
“I think there were too many [turning points] to really pinpoint one because any one of them, obviously, could have thrown the match into a different direction again in the first, and in the second, too,” admitted Federer. “More so in the first maybe because there were more twists and turns. Maybe [I have] a bit of regret because I had the lead twice, first before him.”
Federer fortuitously capitalised on a lapse in concentration to break back and the set was decided on a tie-break. Interestingly, Federer had won the first set on 20 occasions in their previous clashes. This time, Djokovic was in the ascendancy. Federer recovered from a 0-2 deficit and saved set point at 5-6 in an extraordinary rally, which saw the Swiss lunge and showcase his athletic prowess for a forehand winner, hit close to the net, past a motionless Djokovic. Federer mis-timed a backhand at 6-6 and Djokovic clinched the set in 72 minutes with his 11th winner, a forehand into space. The Serbian has never lost to Federer after winning the first set.
Federer regrouped immediately. The two-time reigning champion battled to win his fourth break point in a 14-minute opening game to the second set, as Djokovic committed five unforced errors to lose his serve. Federer won his service games was relative ease until the eighth game, when Djokovic created one break point opportunity. Although he failed to convert it, he was left to rue missing a short forehand that had bounced up off the net.
Djokovic stayed in touch and then benefitted from four straight errors, after Federer led 40/15 and two set point chances. Fired up, Djokovic screamed in celebration as he levelled at 5-5 after Federer struck a forehand long. Djokovic went onto win his third straight game as the pressure, and the crowd’s focus, shifted to Federer to remain in the match. Federer committed his 19th unforced error of the set (and 42nd of the final) at 30/30, as Djokovic gained championship point. Djokovic fired a backhand pass down the line at 30/40 and pumped his chest as a capacity 17,800 spectators erupted in applause. It was his 30th winner of the encounter. "I managed to deliver my best game when it was needed the most,” said Djokovic on the dramatic finale.
“Today we had times where we had longer rallies, we had times where we had shorter rallies,” said Federer. “Like I mentioned, I think we had some great stuff out there. It was good playing such points. I think the quality was good. I shouldn't have been broken as often as I was broken today. But then again, that obviously has something to do with Novak, as well. It was extremely close today.”
Djokovic improved to 34-19 in tour-level finals after going 5-0 in match play this week. He opened his fifth straight season-ending campaign on Monday, with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. On Wednesday, he rallied past Andy Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in their seventh meeting of year (leads 4-3) and on Friday beat Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-6(6). In the semi-finals, he came back to defeat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Federer, making his 11th appearance, was attempting to become the first player since Ivan Lendl to win three season-ending championship titles in a row (1985-87). The 2003-04, 2006-07, 2010-11 champion has a 42-9 tournament record. He was also looking to capture his 77th crown, which would have tied him at No. 3 with John McEnroe in the all-time title-leaders list.
This year, the 31-year-old Swiss compiled a 6-4 record in finals, including his seventh title at Wimbledon (d. Murray) and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. He had a 71-12 match record.