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#3 Federer to Final for 7th time, seeking Title #70

London Semi-Final Results, Final preview


November 26, 2011 | 07:43 PM

With a somewhat untidy but not overly long 7-5, 6-3 win in the semis today over the Forgotten Fifth Man (#5 David Ferrer, who beat both Joker and Nadal), Federer has a chance to win a record 6th Masters Cup, equaling his Wimbledon titles, and further establishing himself in the record books. In all time finals, he's now #5 with 100, four behind Vilas and eight behind McEnroe, who leads the top five list in win percentage at 71% (Fed is 2nd with 69 wins going into tomorrow). Reaching his 6th final of the year, he has a chance to win his 4th - as many as he won both in '08 and in '09 when he reached 15 finals (last year, Rog won 5 of 9).

The idea that an active contender could catch Roger in any record category of total wins (he's at 802), titles (69), or Majors (16), which was actively debated at the conclusion of the last two years, is no longer even a point of discussion since Joker ran off with 3 Majors and 10 titles. Roger accumulated a wealth of titles in his early years ('04-'07) after '04 and '05, when he won 24 finals in a row, going 11-0 and 11-1.

In the last years we heard plenty of speculation about RAFA tying or surpassing Roger's Major record. Year 25 saw Rafa add 1 Major. He now stands at 10 total with 46 titles (66% of Roger's 70). In 2011 he won only 3 of 10, a haul that is as poor for him as Roger's 12 of 16 were for him in the same year ('06).

JOKER, six years younger than Roger, has earned only 5 fewer titles in 42 finals through the end of his 24th calendar year. To stay on pace with Roger, he would have to win another 20 titles in the next two years. He's at now 40% of Roger's title wins, and 25% of his 16 Majors.

If either Rafa or Joker develop the kind of momentum in 2012 that the Serb had this year, talk will resume of a challenge to Roger's records. It's worth noting only 20-25% of Fed's Titles and Majors has come in the last 4 years since he started his 27th year in 2008. To have such a path ahead of him after this year (his 26th), Rafa has to win 2 Majors and 6 titles. After that, with a few more French titles and maybe a Wimbledon in the following 4 years (2013-16), his Major haul could equal Roger's 16 and 69 or 70.

FEDERER will have had 6 hours more rest than his opponent Tsonga who defeated Berdych 6-3, 7-5, saving 3 of 4 break points and converting 3 of 7. Jo clearly controlled most of his service games in the 2nd set until Berdych, down a break at 3-4, began attacking Jo's 2nd serve with success. Why he didn't do this sooner - as he had done with Tipsarevic - is something he'll have to think about. That is precisely what Tsonga did to him and to Nadal with success.

Perhaps it's good for Roger that he didn't leave his best tennis on the court today, racking up unforced errors in the first set and struggling to hold serve at 4-5 in spite of never facing a break point in the game (or the match). Ferrer continued playing the kind of tennis that forces his higher ranked opponents to work for every point, but made uncharacteristic unforced errors at multiple deuce points in the 10th game, when Roger was missing his 1st serves.

So, Federer and Tsonga will play for the 3rd Sunday in a row. This match is more important to Roger and the prospect of winning his biggest title of the year will make him nervous. If this costs him the fast start he has had in most of his matches on his undefeated streak of 16 in a row, Jo could run away with the match with a sustained hot streak. So far this week, Jo has yet to do sustain one.

ODDS on Betfair stand at a little better than 3/1 for Federer, which feels about right. If it goes to form, Rog will start fast and get ahead, with Jo fighting to get back into the match and grab momentum. If it goes to a 3rd set, Jo's odds will increase in spite of the fact that Roger wins most of their deciding sets and has beaten him 4 of 6 times this year.

Both men are very comfortable in London indoors on the fast, low bouncing surface which favors their games above the others currently in the top 10. If as much of the tour today were played indoors on carpet and surfaces like this one, the top 10 would look differently, more like it did in the 70's and 80's when Connors and McEnroe each won over 50 indoor titles.

With 18 INDOOR TITLES, Roger has twice as many as any other active player (Murray has 9, Roddick and Soderling 7, Joker and Tsonga 5, and more than any player in the post McEnroe era except Sampras, Becker, Lendl and Edberg (who also won 18)..

On top of his all time leading 47 HARD COURT titles with the all time leading winning percentage on the surface, had a substantial portion of the year been played indoors instead of on clay, it's likely Roger would be in serious pursuit of yet more records: all time titles (109) and total match wins (1242). This one is held by Connors with what appears to be an unassailable lead.

Rick

ATP 2011 11.24.11


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