Fed­erer eases past Sock then praises ‘brave’ Mur­ray

The Guardian - Sport - - Atp World Tour Finals Tennis - Kevin Mitchell O2 Arena

Roger Fed­erer eased past Jack Sock in two sets on the open­ing day of the ATP World Tour Fi­nals yes­ter­day, then calmed con­cerns about the play­ing fu­ture of the ab­sent cham­pion, Andy Mur­ray – an up­beat view in sharp con­trast to gloomy prog­noses by Tim Hen­man and An­drew Cas­tle.

While Mur­ray’s Bri­tish friends fear his in­jured hip could bring his ca­reer to a pre­ma­ture close, Fed­erer, who played the Scot on his re­turn from four months off the Tour in an ex­hi­bi­tion match in Glas­gow on Tues­day, has no such wor­ries.

“Con­sid­er­ing he has been to­tally out of the spot­light, it was a brave move for him to put him­self out there, give it a go,” said Fed­erer, who had just beaten Sock 6-4, 7-6 (4). “No­body really knew how he was do­ing. I was happy how he was play­ing. Def­i­nitely he can move bet­ter, he can serve bet­ter. We know all these things. For a start it was quite en­cour­ag­ing and OK. He still has a lot of time be­fore Aus­tralia comes around. Only he knows at what level he wants to re­turn to com­pe­ti­tion. But I thought he was ac­tu­ally pretty good. I didn’t ex­pect him to be this good yet.”

Ear­lier, how­ever, Hen­man told the BBC: “You see him walk­ing around in be­tween points or away from the court, the limp is quite pro­nounced. Then when you see him mov­ing on the court, his move­ment is im­prov­ing. I still think he’s got a long way to go to get back and be 100%.”

Cas­tle said: “I tried to find out a few things about his hip. The team doesn’t give too much away. He’s do­ing his best to be ready to go out to Aus­tralia and to ac­cli­ma­tise. But, look, I’ve got a metal hip. The hip is bad news. It ties up the top half and the bot­tom half. You need it. I’m very wor­ried about Andy’s fu­ture in the game be­cause of the area that is clearly trou­bling him. Fin­gers crossed he will be able to come back.”

Fed­erer, mean­while, be­gan his pur­suit of a sev­enth ti­tle here in im­pres­sive style. There were a few mis-hits, some daz­zling win­ners and the re­sult that many among the 20,000 fans present were hop­ing for against Sock, the Amer­i­can un­der­dog who had to win the fi­nal in Paris last week to make the fi­nal eight here.

“It was really just a mat­ter of try­ing to keep the ball in play,” Fed­erer said af­ter­wards of the chal­lenge of de­fus­ing Sock’s rocket-like serves af­ter soak­ing up 11 aces.

“It’s al­ways a strug­gle early in a tour­na­ment. Af­ter a while you’re just happy to hit some good strokes. The sec­ond set was Bux­ton 3 Fars­ley Celtic 3; Hale­sowen 0 Shaw Lane 0; Mat­lock Town 0 Nantwich Town 3; Mick­leover Sports 2 Sut­ton Cold­field 0. League stand­ings: 1 Al­trin­cham P19 Pts38; 2 War­ring­ton 19-37; 3 Gran­tham 20-35. IN­TER­NA­TIONAL MATCHES Eng­land 21 Ar­gentina France 18 New Zealand Ire­land 38 South Africa Italy 19 Fiji Scot­land 44 Samoa Wales 21 Aus­tralia

8 38

3 10 38 29 tight. The breaker could have gone either way but he helped me with a dou­ble fault and some mis­takes.”

On his per­for­mance he said: “I was serv­ing well, didn’t have too many prob­lems in the sec­ond set. That was a good win for me. He served big: 105mph, 110, 115 some­times on the sec­ond serve.

“I’ve been com­ing over on the re­turn on the back­hand for a while, the big­ger racket helps, and it’s also about more con­fi­dence. I didn’t serve and vol­ley as much I would like to­day. If you come in, the more time you spend at the net you find the more points there are there. It’s a great op­tion to have. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it.”

The first set came briefly to life in the sixth game when Fed­erer butchered a rou­tine vol­ley at the net on game point – dis­tracted pos­si­bly by the Amer­i­can turn­ing his back and show­ing him his back­side. There was an ex­change of grins on the changeover but, when se­ri­ous busi­ness re­sumed, the Swiss com­pleted the job. As Fed­erer ob­served later: “It looks very easy. I don’t know what hap­pened.”

Sock was more com­pet­i­tive early in the sec­ond set be­fore the strain told. A dou­ble fault cost him break point in the sixth game, he had to set­tle his nerves at 4-3 and needed to save twice to hold for 5-4. Fed­erer held to love, a deft vol­ley at the net then get­ting him a sixth break point. Sock wrig­gled out of trou­ble with his fi­nal ace but the end ar­rived when he dou­ble­faulted in the tie-break for the sixth time in the match be­fore slap­ping a tired fore­hand long and a fraught con­test was done af­ter an hour and a half. A Welling­ton lbw b Ec­cle­stone .............................. 2 ML Schutt not out ................................................ 1 Ex­tras (b1, lb10, w1) .......................................... 12

To­tal Fall Bowl­ing Pan C-t (Tai) 71 66 73; R Ar­mour 68 69 73; C Vil­le­gas (Col) 72 68 70. 211 J Kokrak 69 68 74; D Lee (NZ) 70 69 72; G Ogilvy (Aus) 68 71 72; T Dun­can 69 72 70; T Wilkin­son (NZ) 70 71 70; F Gomez (Arg) 66 70 75; N Lind­heim 70 67 74. 212 P Perez 67 74 71; D McCarthy 75 65 72; C Or­tiz (Mex) 67 71 74; Z John­son 70 70 72; J Wag­ner 72 67 73; B Stegmaier 71 67 74. 213 G Chalmers (Aus) 69 71 73; K Duke 68 68 77; L Grif­fin 71 70 72; C Shindler 69 72 72.

D Fathauer 70 70 74; J Byrd 72 67 75; C Con­ners (Can) 70 71 73. 215 A Bad­de­ley (Aus) 73 68 74; R Sab­ba­tini (SA) 74 67 74. 216 R Barnes 67 74 75; M Ev­ery 68 73 75. 219 K Mitchell 66 75 78.

Ten­nis

NITTO ATP FI­NALS (Lon­don)

Sin­gles: Group B: R Fed­erer (Swi) bt J Sock (US) 6-4

Rugby union Will Oliver/EPA

Roger Fed­erer started his bid for a sev­enth ATP World Tour Fi­nal ti­tle with an easy win over the Amer­i­can Jack Sock

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