ATP World Tour Finals 2010

Nov 28, 2010

Like last year, I was lucky enough to grab some tickets for the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London. The top eight players in the world pitted against each other in a round robin format, and on a chilly Sunday evening I schlecked my way down the country to be one of the 17500 to fill the stadium to the gills. Any day is a special day at the ATP World Tour Finals, but my specific tickets were for the very first Sunday evening session. That afternoon, Andy Murray had kick-started British confidence by beating tricky Robin Soderling in straight sets, so the O2 was humming with the idea of a Federer/Murray clash later on in the week.

But there was still the evening session to attend, and I had a pressing engagement to attend to; finding where either Roger Federer or David Ferrer would be playing, and get right up against the fence to take 100+ photos. Unfortunately, the players remained elusive. Instead of just the one practice court, the O2 had installed a ‘Fan Zone’, where two more practice courts were set up with a stand of seats for spectators. Neither Federer nor Ferrer made an appearance, I am sad to say, and I expended a lot of energy running from the original practice court to the brand new ones, camera clutched in my hands, praying my luck from last year would reach onto this year.

It wasn’t to be. Although that may be a good thing; if I went weak at the knees at seeing Novak Djokovic up close last year, then I would probably have to be stretchered out of the stadium if I got too close to Federer this year.

Once again, the O2 had gone all out for the tennis. There was a warm glow of pride from every tennis fan present; this is our show, our chance to come and see our sport. For those of us who had never been able to take a chance at seeing players at Wimbledon, it had a particularly special feeling for British sports fans who arrived to see the best play the best.

The game itself was quite predictable; Roger Federer beating the Spaniard David Ferrer in straight sets. What really makes the O2 great, even in a more pedestrian game like this, is the atmosphere. Spanish tennis fans are as intense as they come, and Roger Federer has his hoard of ‘Feder-hers’ and Feder-hes’ to keep the atmosphere buoyed.

There were the odd one or in the crowd who still thought shouting ‘Come on Andy’ (when the man isn’t playing)or even worse ‘come on Tim’ is hilarious. It isn’t). My ‘Call of the Match’ award would go to a man up on the top tier a few rows behind me, who shouted  ‘Expeliarmus!!’ at a Federer game win. Now that is imaginative.

The hysteria of a Murray/Federer head to head hungover onto the ride home; North Greenwich tube station rang with the whispers and predictions for the Tuesday event.

Unfortunately for Murray fans, Murray went on to be beaten in straight sets by Roger. But his luck wasn’t over, and he made his way to the semi-finals where he came up against the brick wall known as Rafael Nadal.

Rafa looked pale and skinny in the face in his match against Murray yesterday evening, and that would go some way to explain the second set that he dropped to the Scot’s mighty resilience. Whether it was illness or a reaction to the British weather, it was worrying to see him look so un-Rafa like. There was no healthy glow, no shine, rarely a happy look. Despite the gaunt appearance, Nadal eventually wrangled control of the game from the hands of the home favourite and took the third set in a tense tie break.

If Murray wants to win a grand slam in the foreseeable future, he needs to stop playing fantastically against the rest of the top five and start beating the rest of the top five. There is a distinct difference, although one that Murray seems unable to bridge. When the year 2011 starts, it’ll be the third or fourth year in a row that has been predicted to be ‘his year’. He’ll be anxious to put this one behind him and start again in 2011.

With Andy Roddick and David Ferrer falling early on, Andy Murray holding on gallantly but failing at the last hurdle, it’s up to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to put on a show for us at the O2 this evening in the final.

I’m sure that won’t be too much to ask of either of them.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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