New Frontier for Federer, Kvitova Sweeps the WTA Awards — The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Roger Federer

New Frontier

With all that Roger Federer has accomplished thus far in his career, there are few big titles that are absent from his impressive résumé.  But this weekend marked an important first for the man from Switzerland, as he won his maiden Paris Masters shield.  The win puts him at 18 TMS titles and 69 overall.  But the victory may also pay other dividends for Federer.  He thrashed Tomas Berdych in the semifinals before posting a convincing win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the championship match.  Though neither player is a member of the top four, the Czech and Frenchman have recently been thorns in the side of Federer, and consecutive victories over the pair of them should only add to his confidence heading into London.  In fact, based on current form, Federer appears to be the man to beat in the British capital.  You can be sure he’ll be keen to regain the number three ranking before the season’s end and hopefully propel himself to slam success in 2012.

Cleaning Up

In addition to putting together the best season of her career that included titles at both Wimbledon and the WTA Championships, Petra Kvitova bagged a fair share of the WTA awards.  Not surprisingly, she was named the WTA Player of the Year, but that wasn’t all.   She also received the nod for the Most Improved Player, and fans voted her the Breakthrough Player of the Year.  That’s an awful lot to live up to next season, but if she continues to improve the mental aspect of her game, she’ll be perfectly poised to add more than a few championship trophies and awards to her mantel for years to come.

Group Dynamics

Earlier in the week, the two groups for the ATP World Tour Finals were announced, and based on where the chips fell, it could be anyone’s game.  Group A consists of Djokovic, Murray, Ferrer and Berdych.  With his injury and latest performances, Djokovic can hardly be expected to dominate.  Murray may be the one with the edge in that group after a strong autumn, but his most recent loss comes at the hands of Berdych, who should thrive on the fast indoor surface.  Finally, you can’t discount Ferrer, the ultimate competitor, who’s capable of beating anyone on any given day and has the experience of having reached the final of this prestigious event back in 2007.  Then there are the intriguing matchups in Group B, which consists of Nadal, Federer, Tsonga and Fish.  Federer has been in superb form, but Nadal has frequently had his number, (though it’s worth noting that Federer defeated Nadal at this same venue in the final last year).  Nadal himself is a bit of a wildcard, posting mediocre results this fall and skipping Paris.  Fresh off the final in Paris, Tsonga, like Federer, also appears to be peaking at the right time and has proven capable of causing more than a few upsets.  Perhaps the only man that would truly be beating the odds to make the semis is Fish, if for no other reason than he’s nursing a bad injury and may be battling nerves as the only player in the eight-man field to be making his ATP World Tour Finals debut.  Predictions anyone?

Charity Twist

Tennis players have an excellent record of answering the call to help those less fortunate than themselves, and they’re doing so again, right up to the last tournament of the year.  As an interesting way to raise funds, each of the eight singles players in the London field will be stocking their personal lockers, and fans will have the opportunity to bid online for the locker contents of their favorite player.  The proceeds will then be split 50-50 with half of the money going to the tournament’s partner charity Save the Children and the other half going to the respective player’s charity of choice.  As usual, the tennis establishment should be applauded for its humanitarian efforts and employing a fun and creative way to raise the funds.

Gauntlet Thrown

If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.  That’s what the Canadian Davis Cup Teams is going to have to do when they face France in their opening tie of 2012.  In advertisements for the upcoming tie, the Canadians appear to be ribbing the French, with one poster of Milos Raonic reading “Hey France, I’ve got a 151 m.p.h serve.  Try returning that with a baguette.” Another features Vasek Pospisil stating “Hey France, Welcome to Vancouver.  My hometown and your worst nightmare.”  Them are fightin’ words from a nation that doesn’t have nearly the same amount of depth or tennis history as its opponent, but they should help fuel a boisterous and supportive atmosphere for the home team.  And hey, if they prove capable of backing up the talk, just imagine the promos we can look forward to in the future.