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ATP World Tour Finals set with Berdych, Tsonga, Fish; Ivanovic wins in Bali – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Blow to the Cause

The saying goes that “there’s no place like home,” and that was certainly the case for Roger Federer last week in Basel.  The Swiss Maestro won his home tournament for the fifth time, ending a 10-month title drought in the process.  But while the victory provides Federer some much-needed momentum and confidence going into the last remaining tournaments of the year, the bigger story was his comments pertaining to the recent gripes about the length of the ATP season.  Unlike many of his other high profile fellow competitors, Federer doesn’t see the schedule as a huge issue, putting more of the responsibility on the players to schedule themselves appropriately.  He is correct in saying that it’s better to have too many rather than too few tournaments, and players need to realize where they perform best and put themselves in the best position to peak at the right time.  So while there is definite merit to Murray’s suggestion of slightly reducing the number of required events, Federer is the one to have hit the nail on the head.  His sentiments are undoubtedly music to tournament directors’ ears, and his view will carry some weight against the opposing school of thought’s arguments.  Federer’s record speaks for itself, as you don’t win as many tournaments as he has without putting in a lot of court and travel time over the course of several seasons.  If he’s been able to do it with little complaint and little injury, there’s no reason why others should not be able to follow in a similar fashion.  And if they can’t, maybe they need to take a hard look at what else is causing their injuries aside from just the length of the season (such as poor personal scheduling, style of play, etc.).

One for All

The field is set for London, and it comes courtesy of Tomas Berdych’s win over Janko Tipsarevic on Thursday in Paris.  Berdych, who was next in line to qualify, had to dig himself out huge holes in both sets to secure the victory, and as happy as he was to earn the win, two others were equally as thrilled.  The Czech’s victory also ensured that the remaining two London berths went to Tsonga and Fish.  This may have proven key for Mardy Fish, who after blowing two match points against Juan Monaco in a second set tiebreak, ultimately had to retire from the match early in the third with a niggling left hamstring strain.  Fish will hopefully be able to take advantage of having the luxury to pull out of the match, knowing he was already London bound, in order to recuperate and be in the best shape possible for the final tournament of 2011.

Great Expectations

Fresh off her win in Bali for the second straight year, a confident Ana Ivanovic stated she thinks she has what it takes to get back to the top.  Ordinarily, this might be considered a pipe dream given her results the last couple of years, but with the current topsy-turvy nature of the WTA, it’s not impossible.  She’s quickly turning her game around since bringing on Nigel Sears, and with a victory to cap off her season, she’ll be looking to build on her results early in 2012.  And while her team admits it’s a big ask to return to the apex of the rankings, the WTA could use her in the latter rounds of the competition.  Here’s to hoping she’s back in the mix and on her way to playing Istanbul at the end of next year.

Now or Never

Andy Roddick’s 2011 campaign came to an abrupt end, as Andy Murray showed no mercy in dismantling the American’s game to win the match handily 6-2, 6-2.  But it will be more than just this loss that will be leaving a sour taste in Roddick’s mouth.  For the first time since 2001, he will finish outside of the Top 10.  For sure, going into 2012 Roddick is going to put in the time and effort, because he’s always been a fighter.  He also seems confident that his slump in form is due to needing to improve his fitness and movement.  But there’s no denying that he hasn’t seemed to be enjoying himself out there much of the season.  Nor does he have the personality of a Hewitt or a Ferrero, making it difficult to see him taking the approach of those two struggling veterans.  So, barring a favorable turnaround in results, it might be time to start asking ourselves if 2012 will be the final season for the man who has carried the American banner the last decade.

Cherry on Top

After a horrendous autumn, Petra Kvitova righted the ship in stunning fashion to finish the season strong with her win in Istanbul, making a very strong case to be named the WTA’s Player of the Year for 2011.  But the hard-hitting Czech wasn’t done yet.  She valiantly led her nation against Fed Cup powerhouse Russia to secure a sixth title for her country and first since 1988.  She certainly didn’t need the win to serve a springboard going into 2012, but it’s a great addition to her growing résumé.  If she can continue to play this way consistently, we may be witnessing the dawning of a new and fruitful era in Czech tennis.