2012 Bragging Rights

Major titles were evenly distributed amongst Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray this year. Nadal has missed most of the year. Murray also won the Olympic gold, but has faded since then. Federer held the #1 ranking for part of the year, but Djokovic reclaimed it for the end of the year. Winning the Barclay’s year-end championship may tip the scales in our minds towards Fed or Nole.

• A blockbuster title match between the ATP World Tour’s Top 2 players is set for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – just the fourth all-Top 2 final in the 43-year history of the year-end tournament. It’s the second time in three years the top two are meeting in the final. It’s also the first time since 2004 two former year-end champions are in the final (Federer d. Hewitt).

• World No. 1 Novak Djokovic squares off with No. 2 Roger Federer, who leads the head-to-head rivalry 16-12 (tied 2-2 this year). Federer has won their last two meetings in the semi-finals of Wimbledon and final of Cincinnati in August. Federer has a 4-3 advantage in finals and leads 3-1 indoors. In their only previous meeting at this tournament (and last indoors) two years ago, Federer won the semi-final 61 64. After that loss Djokovic went on a historic 43-match winning streak into June 2011. Here are the four times the World No. 1 and No. 2 have met in the final of the season finale:
– 2012: No. 1 Djokovic vs. No. 2 Federer
– 2010: No. 2 Federer d. No. 1 Nadal
– 1986: No. 1 Lendl d. No. 2 Becker
– 1983: No. 2 McEnroe d. No. 1 Lendl

Federer served very well to beat Andy Murray 7-6(5) 6-2. Against Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro served as well as he did while beating Federer in group play. Del Potro was hitting Djokovic off the court in the first set and a half, but as the match wore on the big man seemed less able to either hit winners or run down Djokovic’ shots. Djokovic came back to beat del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Federer will certainly serve well against Djokovic, but probably won’t tire, so Djokovic can’t afford to fall behind in the final.

Update: I watched the first set last night. And the first game of the second set.

Djokovic did fall behind 0-3, but came back to 3-3. Late in the set Djokovic hit a remarkable off-balance passing shot. Even after leaning the wrong way, he was able to lunge back onto his trailing right leg and pivot enough to pass Federer at net. He had points to serve out at 5-4, but Federer hit  a remarkable shot of his own, whipping a shot that looked to be well behind him into a screaming cross court forehand winner. Federer broke and held to 6-5, and threatened to take the first set, but Djokovic thrived on the drama, and made it into the tiebreak, which he won 7-5.

Federer broke Djokovic in a ten minute opening game to lead the second set 1-0, but I could not stay up to watch any more. I read this morning that Djokovic came back to win the second set 7-5.

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