Roger Federer needed to wait as late in the day as last week’s BNP Paribas Masters to book his record-equalling 12th consecutive spot at the season-ending finals and the Swiss maestro will be desperate to succeed having had his worst season for 11 years.
It was in the 2002 campaign that the 32-year-old last didn’t feature in a Grand Slam final, and with only a victory in the Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle to speak of, the man who has dominated the game for such long periods of his career is under intense scrutiny.
Recent Beijing, Shanghai and Paris Masters champion Novak Djokovic was careful and considered when he said: “…he hasn’t been moving as well this year as he did the year before, and that’s one of the reasons why he hasn’t had much success”.
And the fact that the world number two – knowing full well how those comments would serve as motivation for his first opponent at the O2 – was so honest, emphasises the shift in how the once untouchable talent is now perceived.
The Serb does not fear Federer and the remarkable turnaround of their once one-sided head-to-head record proves it. After losing 13 of their opening 19 clashes before the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic produced arguably the most dominant performance in their personal history when destroying the 17-time Slam winner over the minimum distance in Melbourne.
He hasn’t looked back since and now only one victory separates Djokovic from levelling their increasingly intimate series to 17-a-piece with odds of 2/7 suggesting that many believe the most in-form player on the planet will do just that.
Federer’s recent performances will have offered some encouragement for Swiss supporters having seen their hero reach the final in Basel before beating Juan Martin del Potro for the first time in four meetings next up in Paris. He also claimed the opening set against Djokovic before succumbing to a deciding set defeat in their final in the French capital.
And there have been enough positives over the last fortnight to support a similar story in Greenwich with the 8/11 that Federer wins the match with a 3.5 game head-start standing-out in a market dictated by Djokovic.
The 26-year-old may be on the crest of a 17-game winning streak but Federer has won this title six times, is still hitting the ball extremely well and has been given a little extra boost by Djokovic’s comments – regardless of their accuracy..
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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