By Ros Satar, at the O2, London
- Six-time champion Roger Federer arrives fresh and ready to claim a seventh title
- Expects Nadal to play and shed light on his scheduling decisions this year, and plans for the new season
LONDON, UK – Roger Federer is arguably the favourite to walk away with the ATP World Tour Finals title in a little over week’s time as he looked back over his year.
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Fresh from his fun and games with Andy Murray at the charity exhibition earlier this week, Roger Federer looked to be the most relaxed of the eight players in the pre-tournament press conferences on Friday.
He told reporters: “Last year I couldn’t be here, so it’s nice to be able to do it again, you know because this year I had to start further back in the rankings. Early goal was to be at the half way point before/after Wimbledon – around 8th int he world or something. That was always going to put me in an interesting situation for the rest of the year trying to qualify for the World Tour Finals, so by winning the Australian Open, pretty much I was in a good position throughout after that, so I was very happy how I played throughout the entire season, stayed pretty much injury free apart from the back issue in Montreal, carried over for a bit.
“But played great and very happy to be here again and get a chance to compete with the best, so it’s one of the big highlights, for me, of the year, playing here at the World Tour Finals and happy I made it here.”
While this year boasts four newcomers to the tournament, Federer is an old hand at the format, admitting that coming here fresher also makes a difference.
“Every year feels different. everybody I think feels the same way here about this tournament. One more push, then it’s over. And especially – like in a Masters 1000 sometimes we play five in a row, [here] it’s like you play, one day off, play, one day off.
“It’s much easier to push extra every single match whereas when you play every single day, it can really get to you, one you make it to the quarters or something.
“I am fresh, yes, but I think previous years also I felt great coming into the World Tour Finals. That’s why I’ve played as well as I have over the years at this event.”
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The decision to skip Paris may make all the difference for the Swiss. While World No. 1 Rafael Nadal had to take the step to rest up his knee which caused him to withdraw shortly before his quarter-final at the Paris Masters, Federer once more demonstrated the importance of a reduced schedule.
“I always see the season until Indian Wells or Miami and then you connect all the way to Wimbledon, see what the whole clay court season would look like, going into the grass court season.
Definitely talking about that with my team right now to see what do they think, because they were a big part of me taking the decision at the end not to play the clay court season last year. I was kind of ready to do it until the very end, and when we sat down for Madrid or Rome and the French, and we were playing [on clay] for a few days, they [said] ‘think about it wisely what you want to do, because remember the year before you had problems with your knee on the clay, and maybe this year is not the right year, so I know it’s maybe a difficult decision for you but take it really into consideration not to play the clay.’
“That’s when I said ‘ok, you know what. Maybe it is the right decision not to push it, because it’s been a great season so far.’
“For next year everything’s back on the table. Anything’s possible. Of course I hope we can play but I just better be very cautious of my decision making, and the question is it better to make a decision early or is it better to wait and see what happens during the beginning of the season.
“There’s no guarantee I’m going to play obviously as well as I did this year at the beginning of the next season, so I’m going to take everything into consideration.”
Of course there is also no guarantee that he and Nadal will be the last men standing come a week next Sunday, but that still would not stop a big name withdrawal like Nadal dealing the World Tour Finals a huge blow. The Spaniard cut short his run at the Paris Masters, and had to deflect questions about his knee injury earlier in the day.
Federer said: “He’s the No. 1 player i the world. He’s had the best season of us all, and he’s a superstar of our game. So, naturally a big blow. If he’s here, to me that means that’s a really very good sign. I don’t think he has to be here. If he wants to play this event, I get it.
“I think because of what i explained before with the day of rest between each match, I think also that is big for him. To be able to have that day rest, and let the knee heal itself a little bit, at least just for a bit, so will be interesting. I hope he plays, I hope he plays well.”
Federer is in Group Boris Becker, and will play on Sunday.
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