Djokovic ends year on high with Fi­nals win over Federer

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: No­vak Djokovic put the fin­ish­ing touch to a mag­nif­i­cent sea­son by beat­ing Roger Federer 6-3 6-4 to win the ATP World Tour Fi­nals on Sun­day for the fifth time in his ca­reer. The Ser­bian un­der­lined his com­plete dom­i­nance of men’s ten­nis with an­other im­mac­u­late dis­play to be­come the first player in the year-end­ing tour­na­ment’s 46-year history to tri­umph four times in a row.

Federer brought the tour­na­ment to a close in anti-cli­mac­tic fash­ion with a dou­ble-fault, al­though not as much as a year ago when he pulled out of the fi­nal with back in­jury. Af­ter a mod­est cel­e­bra­tion, Djokovic walked back to his chair and wrote “And now for va­ca­tion” in Ser­bian on a cam­era lens. How he de­serves one.

The 28-year-old has stomped through the sea­son to leave his ri­vals trail­ing in his wake-se­cur­ing the year-end world num­ber one rank­ing weeks be­fore the Lon­don fi­nale. He won three of the year’s four grand slams, beat­ing the ev­er­green Federer in the Wim­ble­don and U.S. Open fi­nals to take his ca­reer haul to 10, and would have cel­e­brated the rarest of ‘cal­en­dar year slams’ had it not been for an in­spired Stanis­las Wawrinka in the French Open fi­nal.

Not only that but he won a record six Mas­ters Se­ries crowns and reached 15 con­sec­u­tive fi­nals af­ter los­ing to Ivo Karlovic in the Doha quar­ter-fi­nals at the start of the year. He ended the year with an 82-6 win loss record-half of those de­feats com­ing against Federer, in­clud­ing Tues­day’s 7-5 6-2 group stage de­feat by the Swiss that snapped his 23-match win­ning streak and three-year un­beaten run in­doors. With the stakes raised, though, the 34-year-old Federer made far too many er­rors on Sun­day while Djokovic’s de­fences proved largely im­pen­e­tra­ble, but for the odd flash of Swiss magic that had his large red and white fan club chant­ing their ap­proval.

STAND-OUT SEA­SON

“I re­turned more balls back than I did five days ago,” Djokovic told a news con­fer­ence. “Ob­vi­ously sit­ting here with this tro­phy along­side me, I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter fin­ish of the sea­son. “This sea­son definitely stands out. I can’t say I ex­pected it, not at all. But I al­ways gave my best, and I’m al­ways ask­ing from my­self the most.”

Federer’s chances were fleet­ing. He had the first break point in the sec­ond game but fluffed a fore­hand into the net. In the next game a near-iden­ti­cal fore­hand found the net to give Djokovic the break and from there the world num­ber one never looked back. The clin­i­cal Djokovic teased Federer into a vol­ley er­ror on set point in the ninth game to move ahead.

UN­RE­LENT­ING DJOKOVIC

Federer, bid­ding for a record-ex­tend­ing sev­enth ti­tle at the year-en­der, was star­ing at the abyss when he trailed 3-4 0-40 in the sec­ond set but es­caped with five straight points. Djokovic was un­re­lent­ing though and wore his op­po­nent down with one bru­tal rally two games later, seal­ing vic­tory when a Federer sec­ond serve sailed long. He has now lev­elled his head-to-head record (22-22) with Federer for the first time in his ca­reer, a day af­ter pulling level with Rafael Nadal (23-23). Djokovic is seven short of Federer’s record 17 grand slam ti­tles and, if he avoidd in­juries, it is far from in­con­ceiv­able that he could threaten that mark in the next few years. How­ever, world num­ber three Federer warned that em­u­lat­ing 2015 will be a tall or­der for the Serb. “Mar­gins are small at the very top,” Federer said. “That’s why this year of No­vak’s is amaz­ing. Rafa has been there. I’ve been there. We both know how hard it is to back it up. It takes a lot of ef­fort. “You’ve got to be phys­i­cally in shape, no in­juries what­so­ever. Mentally you have to be at your peak at all times. It’s not as easy as it seems some­times.” — Reuters

LON­DON: Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic poses with the ATP tro­phy af­ter win­ning the men’s sin­gles fi­nal match against Switzer­land’s Roger Federer on day eight of the ATP World Tour Fi­nals ten­nis tour­na­ment in Lon­don yes­ter­day. — AFP

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