Roger Federer is on course to win a record sixth end-of-season tennis championship after beating David Ferrer in London on Saturday to reach his 100th career final and return to third in the world rankings.
With world No. 1 Novak Djokovic struggling at the ATP World Tour Finals, a tired Rafael Nadal exiting early, and third-ranked Andy Murray limping out of contention, the scene is set for renewed protests by tennis stars about their testing tournament schedule.
Czech Tomas Berdych is just one win away from securing his place in the ATP World Tour Finals in London later this month after beating Spain's Fernando Verdasco in straight sets in the second round of the Paris Masters.
1. Expect the unexpected: If one the requisite elements of a rivalry is unexpected outcomes, well, Nadal-Federer fills the bill here, too. Rafael Nadal came into their match Sunday in the final of the Barlcay's ATP World Tour Championship looking like a world-beater, ranked No. 1, defending champion of the past three majors and lording a 14-7 head-to-head record over his nemesis. Federer, though second in the rankings, had lost some of that aura in 2010. Yet Federer took out Nadal, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, with a blend of impeccable serving and opportunistic attacking. It was a vivid reminder of his gifts and his prospects for 2011. It was also eloquent reminder of why we love the oscillating nature of a rivalry.
1. Fishing for compliments: Mardy Fish has always had a certain "Fifth Beatle" status in American tennis. He was never Andy Roddick, never James Blake, never the Bryan Brothers. He suffered a string of injuries. He conducted himself with a soft-spoken simplicity that perhaps made him "boring" in the eyes of marketers and promoters. But, obscured by others, he's quietly put together an awfully solid career, that included a win on hard courts over Roger Federer. And though Fish jokes that he's now a doubles specialist, he's not done winning quite yet. As Roddick entertained Terrell Owens and played H-O-R-S-E against Dwyane Wade last weekend in Key Biscayne, Fish beat a suddenly struggling Andy Murray in one of the bigger upsets of 2010. (Oli Rochus's takedown of Novak Djokovic last weekend rates up there as well.) Fish prevailed with a solid, comprehensive performance that included some brilliant shotmaking and unflustered serving. Fish may be 28, but those big chunks of time spent on