The 2014 edition of the ATP World Tour Finals will not be one that will go into the history books as far as the show was concerned… in singles. Within the whole week, only one singles match had us really sitting on the edge of our seats: the epic all-Swiss semifinal between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Apart from that fabulous display of tennis (which sadly ended up with an injured Federer forced to pull out minutes before the final), the only other singles match worthy of the time was a the round-robin encounter opposing Kei Nishikori to alternate David Ferrer.
Except for those two matches, it was, for the most part, blowout city in London (only two other singles matches went to the limit). In fact, save for those matches I mentioned, the matches ended up being tedious and a terrible waste of time, making these 2014 ATP World Tour Finals a complete disaster.
However, this is only valid as far as the singles are concerned.
For in reality, the doubles saved the week from being a catastrophe from end to end.
The sad part is that most people did not care about watching that side of the event, which did not receive half the publicity it deserved, although, for once and like every year, they received complete coverage and streaming, something that is sorely lacking during the season. In fact, I can safely say that during a tennis season, I am able to watch more Challenger Tour doubles than I can on the ATP World Tour, for the simple reason that there is more streaming/coverage of the discipline in the Challengers.
To get back on last week’s WTF, the doubles brought us the excitement that was missing in singles: incredible shot-making, breathtaking rallies, drama, matches going the distance… In other words, the works! Throughout the week, only one match ended up not being worth sitting and watching: the semifinal between the Bryan brothers and Julien Benneteau/Édouard Roger-Vasselin, a complete blowout from the twins.
In doubles, the eight best teams of the week gave us the show that is expected when a tournament regroups the best of the season. Those eight teams were, indeed, the best… and played accordingly.
Hopefully, this week will finally give the doubles the credit they deserve: that of being an actual and complete show, great tennis, and worthy of a chance to get more coverage at Tour level in the years to come. A recognition and visiblity that the players have been fighting for for a long time.
Murray saved the day
After a breathtaking doubles final, the highly expected singles battle between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer did not happen. The Swiss did take the court, only to announce his withdrawal from the final, as he injured his back during the third-set tiebreak of his match against Wawrinka the night before and, despite all his efforts, was unable to compete, and is even in doubt for the David Cup final, which will be held at the end of this week.
Djokovic was thus crowned champion of the ATP World Tour Finals for the third consecutive year without even hitting a ball.
In the end, the fans who remained present in the O2 were treated to an impromptu exhibition in two parts: a first-to-eight set between Djokovic and Andy Murray, followed by an entertaining legends doubles featuring John McEnroe, Pat Cash, Tim Henman and… Andy Murray.
For Murray was called at the last minute by Chris Kermode to see if he could come and play a little.
The Scot accepted right away and, what’s more, he did not ask for nor did he receive any money to do so.
He came for the public, and played for fun in front of a crowd who really enjoyed the show.
In other words, Andy Murray came to save the day, pro bono, for the pleasure of all present or watching.
(Photos: Getty Images)