Spritely Roger Federer continues to defy his years to dispatch Jack Sock at the ATP Finals in London
Two weeks after Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers enthralled a capability crowd right here in the O2 Arena, Roger Federer proved on the identical stage that advancing years could be brushed apart by veteran tennis gamers in addition to by ageing rockers.
Federer is the oldest participant to qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals since the match’s first incarnation as the Masters in 1970, however the 36-year-old Swiss appeared as spritely as ever when he opened the singles proceedings right here on Sunday with a 6-Four, 7-6 victory over Jack Sock.
Wimbledon, the place Federer grew to become the first man to win the singles title eight instances this summer season, is the match above all others with which he’ll perpetually be related, however his domination of this occasion is nearly as spectacular. He holds the file for the most titles (six), most finals (10), most appearances (15) and most prize cash received ($14.35m or £10.9m).
Federer’s run of 14 successive appearances in this match ended when he missed the second half of final season due to a knee damage, however he has bounced again in gorgeous model in 2017.
The oldest world No 2 in historical past has misplaced solely 4 matches this 12 months and received 12 of his 13 conferences with high 10 opponents. Despite having performed a restricted schedule of solely 12 tournaments, he has already received seven titles, which is his finest return since 2007.
When Federer made his debut in this competitors in 2002 Sock had simply turned 10 and was beginning to discover his means round a tennis courtroom, having first picked up a racket two years earlier. At 25 he’s having fun with the finest season of his profession and can finish the 12 months as the highest-ranked American for the first time, ending John Isner’s five-year reign.
Only every week in the past Sock was ranked No 22 in the world and outdoors the qualifying locations for London, that are crammed by the eight males who’ve earned the most rating factors in the 12 months. He certified by turning into the first non-European to declare a Masters Series title for seven years, successful in Paris final Sunday, having trailed 5-1 to Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the last set of his opening match.
Federer has solely misplaced as soon as in opposition to a high 10 participant this 12 months (Getty)
Federer withdrew from that match, saying his physique wanted relaxation, and admitted right here that it had taken him time to get better from his exertions the earlier week in Basle, the place he performed 5 matches in six days. After beating Sock, nonetheless, he mentioned he felt good and prepared to go “full steam ahead in every match that comes”.
Sock had not received a set in his three earlier conferences with Federer and that sample hardly ever appeared like altering. Although the just one break of serve got here in the opening recreation, Federer by no means appeared in any hazard.
The Swiss served with all his ordinary guile and consistency, dropping simply 11 factors in his 11 service video games. Sock, who’s the first American to play right here for six years, made only a few punishing returns, in contrast to Federer. Sock was often made to work laborious on his personal serve, although it was to his credit score that he caught to his activity all through. “I don’t think I played too badly,” he mentioned afterwards.
On the very first level Federer hit an apparently easy backhand winner down the line and on the second his intelligent shot to ft compelled Sock right into a volley error. Three factors later a successful inside-out forehand took the Swiss to break level, which he transformed with a luxurious backhand winner down the line.
Federer served out for the first set and had Sock in hassle on his serve for many of the second. The American saved two break factors at Three-Three, two extra at Four-Four and yet another at 5-5. In the tie-break he retrieved a mini-break earlier than serving his sixth double fault at Four-Four, after which Federer served out to full his victory in simply over an hour and a half.
Sock will finish the 12 months as US No 1 (Getty)
The solely embarrassing second for Federer got here at the finish of the seventh recreation of the first set. Sock’s poor drop shot arrange what ought to have been the best of kills, however after the American had given up on the level by turning spherical, bending over and alluring Federer to drill the ball at his bottom, the Swiss netted his forehand.
“It was a big distraction, I’ll tell you that, because it was very big,” a laughing Federer mentioned afterwards. “That’s what I should have aimed for. That target was bigger than the down-the-line court that I had.”
In the ninth recreation of the second set, however, it was Sock’s flip to look sheepish. The world No 9 hit a showboating volley between his legs just for Federer to return it with a successful backhand, which his opponent selected to depart.
“It was a minor shank and I figured it was going to go out,” Sock mentioned later with a smile. “It’s Roger, I guess. He can do no wrong. Everything goes in.”
Federer, who mentioned he was happy with the means he had managed his opening match, was requested afterwards how he felt Andy Murray had performed after they met in a charity occasion in Glasgow final week. It was the Scot’s first match since he struggled by way of Wimbledon with a hip damage.
“I think in some ways it was a brave move for him to just put himself out there and give it a go because nobody really knew how he was doing,” Federer mentioned. “I used to be really joyful how he was taking part in. Definitely he can transfer higher, he can serve higher. We know all this stuff. For a begin, I believe it was really fairly encouraging and truly OK.
“He still has a lot of time before Australia comes around, but 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.”