It’s time for the FINAL PREVIEW OF 2014…
The final of the 2014 World Tour Finals will be contested between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, starting at 6pm UK time on Sunday. It is the final most people predicted a week ago and it is certainly the one I wanted to see. Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka both delivered admirable performances in the semi-finals, but on the whole, Djokovic and Federer have been head and shoulders above the rest of the field during the past week.
In the first of Saturday’s semi-finals, Djokovic dropped his first set of the week, but still posted 6-1 and 6-0 sets to defeat Nishikori, 6-1 3-6 6-0 in one hour and 27 minutes. Nishikori will finish the year at world number five after a breakthrough year. He has certainly proved throughout the whole year that he means business and I do believe he will continue to rise up the rankings. Nishikori did well to get a set off an in-form Djokovic and had the momentum going into the decider. However, Nishikori would win just 12 points in the deciding set. The off-season will be a big one for Nishikori to improve his fitness ready for Australia where I really believe he can do some damage and be a legitimate contender for the first Grand Slam of 2015.
By quite some considerable distance, the second semi-final between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka was the match of the tournament, delivering a gripping, fascinating and dramatic contest. Federer saved four match points to prevail in two hours and 48 minutes, which was 52 minutes longer than any of the other matches played in the singles at this year’s World Tour Finals. Wawrinka was the more aggressive player throughout much of the match, mixing up his serve well and hitting consistently with depth to unsettle Federer. Federer seemed a little passive and really struggled to return the Wawrinka serve effectively.
As the match went into a third set, a big turning point happened in the first game when a Wawrinka shot that had been called out, was overruled by Cedric Mourier, which Federer didn’t hear and only realised when he went down three break points. It also turned out to be an incorrect overrule. Wawrinka hung onto his break all the way to *5-4 where he served for the match in what turned out to be a titanic game. Wawrinka missed three match points, but also saved a break point on a magnificent rally, hitting a winner off his backhand, which was majestic for the entire match. Federer got the crucial break back, but quickly found himself down *15-40 on serve in the next game. Wawrinka lost his head a little, getting distracted by the crowd as Federer held serve.
Wawrinka held serve to force the tiebreak… Federer went up *5-3, but there was a sense that he was waiting for Stan to fold. Three points later and Stan earnt his fourth match point. Again, he would be denied. At 7-6*, Federer had his first match point and he converted with a beautiful drop volley winner.
As Wawrinka is left to rue his four match points, Federer advances to a 37th match with Novak Djokovic. The Djokovic-Federer match-up is my favourite on the ATP tour and it does feel like a fitting end to the ATP year. In their five matches in 2014, Federer has won three of them including their most recent one with a stunning straight sets win in Shanghai, 6-4 6-4. In that particular match, Federer was ultra-aggressive, dominating at the net and completely taking the time away from Djokovic. He will need to do that again, but it won’t be so easy in London as Shanghai is much quicker than the slow indoor court at the O2. I think the semi-final with Stan will have taken something out of Roger with less than 24 hours to prepare and therefore, I believe it’s advantage Novak…
Prediction: Djokovic d. Federer in 2 tight sets