Ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals, which will be played from 9 to 16 November, we come back on the season of each of the eight singles players who will take part in the Final Showdown, from number 8 to number 1.
2: Roger Federer
The year of the phoenix
Roger Federer started 2014 in a position to which he is not accustomed, at number six in the world’s rankings, after coming out of the top 5 for the first time in a decade in August of 2013. He even went as low as number eight after the Australian Open, which proved sufficient to, once again, spur the discussions of an imminent retirement, the same talk that we could hear every time the Swiss is into a bad moment in his career, and which we heard for most of his difficult 2013.
Ironically, this early season talk happened after he reached the final in Brisbane, and the semifinals in Melbourne. In the first Grand Slam of the year, he even passed Guillermo Vilas’s 923 career wins in the third place of the Open Era.
What comes next is history. Federer replied to those who see him retiring the same we he has done for the last few years: with his racquet. He went on to win Dubai for the sixth time, was runner-up in Indian Wells, his third final in four tournaments. After a quarter-final defeat in Miami, added a fourth final in Monte Carlo, a few days before the birth of Leo and Lenny, the second set of twins for him and his wife, Mirka, which prompted him to withdraw from Madrid.
In fact, his worst results of the season came in the weeks that followed this happy event: he lost in his Rome début and fell to an inspired Ernests Gulbis in the round-of-16 of the French Open.
In the following months, the Swiss maestro won four tournaments, three of them being record wins (seventh title Halle, sixth crowns in both Cincinnati and Basel), as well as his very first title in Shanghai (as a Masters 1000), and played his first Grand Slam final in two years in Wimbledon. He also reached the final in Toronto, the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and the quarter-finals of Paris-Bercy. Furthermore, he has been the main actor of the Swiss team in the Davis Cup, winning the five matches he played to ensure their presence in the second final of their history.
To this day, Federer is the irrefutable leader of the ATP World Tour when it comes to match wins, being nearly assured of finishing 2014 with 70 triumphs or more (he has 68 at the moment, with at least four matches left for him to play, in London and in the Davis Cup final), and no one has played more finals than him this season (10 so far).
It thus doesn’t come as a surprise to see him in a fight with Novak Djokovic for the year-end number one, although what happened in Bercy will make it difficult to achieve.
In the end, this season has shown once more that it is useless to bury Roger Federer before his time. After all, just like the phoenix, he always finds a way to be born again from his ashes, be they real or imaginary ones.
(Photos: Getty Images)