The round-robin groups for the ATP Finals in London are out, and Roger Federer’s path to the semi-finals seems scattered with landmines.
The draw favors Nadal, with even Marin Cilic in Federer’s group
The round-robin draw seems to favor Rafael Nadal, but Roger Federer is still the favorite to win the ATP Finals this year.
Marin Cilic has not only reached the finals of the Wimbledon championships but also played some great tennis over the last two months. He has won seven of his last ten matches. Marin has built a steady momentum, and a past slam winner cannot be taken lightly by even the GOAT. The others in Roger Federer’s group are Jack Sock, and another big server and the future number one, Alexander Zverev. Cilic is one of those few heavy hitters, like Juan Martin Del Potro and Alexander Zverev, who can barrel their way through an opponent. The pace and heaviness of their shots can push even Roger Federer behind the baseline scrambling from one corner to another. The player with flat and hard shots is the only type who can trouble Roger Federer nowadays.
Retrievers and grinders cannot hurt Roger Federer anymore
Gone are the days when retrievers and grinders like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Goffin or even Canas could force Federer to play enough shots to elicit an error from his smaller racket frame. Roger doesn’t allow the rallies to extend beyond five shots nowadays, thus effectively neutralizing the grinders.
Greg Rusedski recently observed that the only way to beat Roger Federer would be barrel right through him. “How do you beat Roger Federer?” Rusedski quipped. “You have to have some huge weapons like Del Potro. You have to be able to serve huge and you have to have something that makes a hole through Roger’s movement and not allows him to take the ball that early. That’s why Juan Martin del Potro was able to beat him at the US Open when he had a back problem. That’s why he’s a little bit scared of that sort of player. There are two guys on tour that can do that to Roger – Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro. Rafa has got to figure out something tactically because he can’t just brutally go through him anymore and break down that backhand side. It’s back to the drawing board for Rafa,” he said.
Jack Sock could hurt Roger Federer
Roger Federer begins his campaign against Jack Sock, and Jack not only serves big but also carries a big forehand. Jack Sock had a break-through tournament in Paris last week. Roger Federer has a 3-0 advantage over Sock, but Sock is more confident now and may even look forward to this meeting with Roger at the ATP Finals. Sock has won eight of last ten matches and is having the best season ever and could pose some serious threat to Roger’s bid for the seventh ATP Finals title.
Alexander Zverev has beaten Roger Federer, the GOAT, before
Alexander Zverev beat Roger at the Canadian Masters this year and has a 2-2 record against Roger Federer. Zverev is another of those big hitters with a huge serve. He is young enough to play with careless abandon against the GOAT and beat him yet again to make their head-to-head 3-2 in his favor. However, he has slipped a little lately and lost four of his last ten matches, but an encounter against Roger Federer should be enough for him to raise his game and do some damage.
Federer would have done better with Nadal and Goffin in his group
Essentially, all players in Federer’s, Boris Becker, group can hurt him more than Rafael Nadal at this juncture. Federer would have stood a better chance against Rafael Nadal, David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov in his round-robin group. However, we expect Roger to come through and win at least two, if not all three, matches in his round-robin group.
Look out for the analysis on Rafael Nadal’s round-robin group to be put up soon on 138mph.