Roger Federer was awarded his eighth fan's favourite trophy yesterday at the start of the ATP Tour end of year Masters. People voted online at www.atpworldtour.com for their favourite player of the year, and Roger Federer came out on top for the eighth time. I voted for him as well and I'm glad he took the moment to thank me for my vote. He may not be the current world number one any more, but he is still the fan's favourite tennis player for his great successes, fair play and respectful treatment of his opponents.
Roger Federer looked dapper in a bright red shirt as he comfortably beat Spain's David Ferrer in his opening round robin match yesterday at London's O2 arena. He ran out a 6-1, 6-4 winner and will next face up to Scotland's Andy Murray.
Talking of Murray, he opened proceedings by beating Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-4 in an absolutely awful shirt that kind of matches his personality and character.
Federer and Murray have become big rivals on tour, sharing wins and losses of late. But it is their deeply contrasting styles which are the most interesting to analyse. Murray is loud and boisterous; Federer calmly and quietly goes about his work. Murray, as previously mentioned, wears some awfully distasteful attire; Federer always wears simple and neat clothing. Murray's hair and face is a complete mess, not even for the end of year Masters can he get himself looking anywhere near decent; Federer is always smartly dressed, appropriately for whatever occasion, and looks clean-shaven and neat when on-court. Murray's frustrations too often get the better of him, leaving him vulnerable to collapse; Federer's mental toughness sees him soak up pressure and overcome it more often than not. Murray delights in ice-baths (which didn't do much for him at this year's Australian Open under the coaching of Miles Maclagan, who since then, has parted ways with the Scot); Federer simply goes for family time with his wife and daughters, and other advertising appointments with Credit Suisse and Lindt, for example. Murray hits a double-handed backhand which can be pretty effective with slow balls but limited in its reach; Federer has the most exquisite single-handed backhand which can hit balls to any spot on the court. Some have targeted Federer's backhand as a potential weakness but I've never believed it. Only Ree-shard (Richard) Gasquet has a backhand comparable. Murray has a disastrously vulnerable second serve; Federer's is as reliable as they come. Both players are immaculate at mixing up their shots in both speed and direction and placement. Murray has yet to win a Grand Slam; Federer has 16.
And so in the build-up to tomorrow's showdown between the two players, I will share a clip of highlights from their round robin clash last year, which Federer won. The only catch is that this clip includes the most hilarious Arabic commentary ever with the translation to English subtitles sure to provide a barrel of laughs!
Take the time to check it out, it's a fantastic bit of fun!
Let's hope the standard of tennis was as high as last year.