October 14, 2014

Still Got Some Fight Left

It's been a long, tough year on the ATP Tour, with four different men claiming each of the season's Grand Slams and only two reaching more than one final. Momentum has shifted from one player to the next all year long, but even with the rise of a new crop of top-tier talent, the old stalwarts remain standing. And last week in Shanghai, one Master proved yet again that he's still a force to be reckoned with.

Roger Federer seemed to be staging a resurgence this year, taking titles in Dubai and Halle before grinding his way to his first Major final in two year, taking eventual champion Novak Djokovic to five sets before finally succumbing. He'd been overshadowed in recent months, though, losing quickly to Marin Cilic in New York, and has only played a couple Davis Cup matches since. In Shanghai, one of the few Masters events she's never won, he was only given a #3 seed, behind two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and a still on-the-mend Rafael Nadal. He was challenged early, too, dropping the middle set to a barely-unranked Leonardo Mayer, a man who'd earned his first top-ten victory just a few months ago in Hamburg and held five match points for his second last week. And though Nadal fell early, now nursing appendicitis along with everything else, plenty other threats remained deep into the draws.

Roger ran into the biggest of those in the semis, meeting top-seeded Novak Djokovic for the first time since their Wimbledon clash in July. And this time the Swiss giant did get the better of his opponent -- he saved the only break chance against him and needed just over ninety minutes to secure the win. He actually struggled more in the final against a surprisingly unseeded Gilles Simon, playing in just his second Masters championship match -- Federer was broken early on Sunday, but eventually crawled back from a 3-5 deficit to take the set in a tiebreak. And despite being denied break points in the second, he closed out the match more decisively in this breaker, scoring an important win over a man who's given him a little trouble in the past.

Federer's win, his fourth title of the year, brings him back to #2 in the world, not far behind Djokovic, and at thirty-three years of age, that's no small feat. And it certainly serves notice to all the upstarts who're trying to nose their way into the sport's elite. He's still kicking strong and hard, and the way's he's playing this year, there seems to be no stopping him.

No comments: