The initial intention was to outline the spectacular price fluctuations in what was a dramatic ATP World Tour Finals Final. There weren’t any. It was dramatic, just the type of drama where you always know how it’s going to end. Like the Die Hard movies with the notable parallel of every now and then wondering if the main protagonist should have quit a while only to be dragged backed in with something outstanding. Here’s a look at the surprisingly uninteresting odds throughout the match, but then there’s a look at what we should expect from the great Roger Federer. Stick around for that.
Match summary: Federer is the 1/4 favourite before an excessively loud grunt has been grunted. Having only tasted defeat to the Fed Express a couple of weeks back, Tsonga is 11/4 to rip up the formbook. The game starts pretty much as expected, with those arrows on the chart which kind of look like geese flying south for the winter fittingly representing the moments when Tsonga’s goose was apparently cooked. Federer takes the first set and looks to be in a hurry to get to a TV for the start of X Factor by closing out the 2nd set, but a couple of uncharacteristic chokes allow Tsonga back into firstly, the set and second, the tie-break. The Frenchman evens the score and it to goes to a decider. As he’s done so many times before, when it looks like he’s struggling, Federer finds another gear and kicks away in the home stretch, plummeting to 1/200 before our traders decide to stick a fork in this one – another title for Federer and more than a vague feeling that there’s something in the tank for at least one more season.
The oldest player to have won what we now know as a Grand Slam event was Arthur Gore who – given that life expectancy for men in the UK at the time was around 50 – practically had one court shoe in the grave when he won the 1909 edition of Wimbledon at the age of 41. It was an era when glimpsing a maiden’s petticoat on the tennis court was probably punishable by imprisonment in the Tower, so we can’t probably draw too many conclusions. In the era when tennis modernised itself into something more like what we’re used to seeing, the oldest winner of a Grand Slam is Andres Gimeno who won the French Open at the age of 34. Proving that marriage isn’t necessarily the end of a man’s life, Andre Agassi won the Australian Open at the age of 32 before focussing in on his attempt to create a litter of tennis wonderkids with Steffi Graf.
The bare information gleaned from history and the recent evidence of the last few weeks suggests that Federer is more than capable of winning another Grand Slam title. Rather cleverly, Federer is managing to evade old Father Time by choosing to leave home less and less. His schedule is less taxing that it was, he’s now doing less globetrotting and he’s recharging the batteries more frequently. As we saw in London, the Federer magic is still there and if he has at his disposal a body even remotely capable of manoeuvring him around the court, it will be enough to keep him towards the top of the sport for a year or two yet. He has played the game with such graceful power, he hasn’t had to extend his body to the point of snapping on too many occasions so it’s not unreasonable to think he can still compete.
The argument against Federer a pro-longed Federer Indian Summer centres around the players he beat in the last couple of weeks. If we’re to believe the Fed Express has declined and he’s in limbo between the Top 3 in the world and the chasing pack, then what he achieved was simply what was expected of him. He finishes the season only having lost once since September (amassing a record of 22 wins from 23 games in that time in all competitions), but as strong as that form has been, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray all clearly limped into the closing weeks of the season and the tournament in London was about as welcome as a massage from Freddie Kruger. You can’t deny that it’s an excellent record, but is it something of a false account of where he’s at? Unless there’s a whole heap of giant-killings in next year’s Grand Slams, he’s going to have to face his fellow inhabitants of the world Top 4 at some point and then we’ll get a better idea of his current level.
After a brilliant end to his season, Roger will go into the new season thinking he can stave off old age for the time being. Whether or not it’s enough to stave of Nadal and Djokovic is something we won’t know for a while yet.
What do you think? Does Federer have more majors in him? Vote and have your say in the comments section.