There does not seem to be much, or anyone, in the way of Roger Federer as he attempts to put the exclamation point on his remarkable year by taking the ATP Finals in London.
Rafael Nadal has pulled out, citing issues with his fitness. He had pulled out of the Paris Masters with a knee issue, but ahead of London, it was thought that his fitness would be restored in time for the ATP Finals.
Nadal lost to David Goffin in his opening match, but unlike most tennis tournaments, the ATP Finals is not a win-or-head-to-the-exits affair. Instead, eight players are divided into two groups of four. The players play each other within their group and the two with the best records move on to the semifinals, so Nadal was not knocked from the tournament by the loss to Goffin.
Regardless of the outcome in London, Nadal will finish the year as the number one ranked player in the world.
Federer almost seems a certainty to win the ATP Finals, which would give him a record of seven victories in the event that is occasionally considered the “fifth slam.”
Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are absent from the tournament this year, so unless someone pulls off an unprecedented upset, Federer is as close to a lock as exists in the world of sport outside Winx.
At the age of 36, Federer is showing Laver-like longevity. He was hurt much of last year and many thought he would never regain the form that propelled him into the lead for most-ever Grand Slam victories.
That notion was dispatched quickly in January of 2017 when Federer won the Australian Open for the fifth time, and then went on to win at Wimbledon for a record breaking eighth time.
It was natural to think his clock was winding down. His last Slam wins were the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2012. He did win the ATP Finals in 2011.
Winning the tournament at London’s O2 Stadium would not be enough to overtake Nadal for the top ranking.