Djokovic overcomes Federer in classic finale to tennis season
The brilliant passing shot that won the title sums up the quality of the men's game
NOVAK DJOKOVIC was crowned the king of men's tennis after ending Roger Federer's two-year reign as ATP World Tour Finals champion at the O2 Arena. The pair produced yet another phenomenal display of hitting that lasted well over two hours as the current world number one prevailed over the Swiss great.
After collecting the trophy Djokovic dedicated the victory to his father Srdjan, who is in intensive care in a Belgrade hospital fighting a severe respiratory illness.
"Having my father fighting his own fight for health gave me extra strength," he said. "It was touch and go the past couple of weeks but he is much better now. I won this for him."
The match was yet another classic in an era where the world's best routinely dish up extraordinary contests. Federer started like a train and won the first 12 points of the contest to go a break up, but Djokovic responded and the first set went to a tie-break, eventually won 8-6 by the Serb.
Federer appeared to have the second set sewn up when he led 5-3, but once again Djokovic rallied and won three successive games to make it 6-5 in his favour. A second tie-break looked on the cards as the Swiss cruised into a lead on his own serve, only for Djokovic to react yet again and he ripped the title from Federer with an extraordinary passing shot.
"The very last point of the year summed up what had gone before. Federer hit what looked like an unanswerable approach shot into the backhand corner, only for Djokovic to get into his patented splits position and manufacture a clean passing shot down the line," said Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph. "It is this sort of inspiration, and this sort of drama, that gives tennis a claim - even in the wake of the London Olympics - to be the sport of the year."
Djokovic showed all his fighting qualities to keep Federer at bay, former British number one Tim Henman told the BBC. "It was a fitting match to finish an unbelievable year. It was a fitting shot to finish too."
The remarkable winner that settled the match will live long in the memory, agreed the Daily Mail. "If there is a signature for the current golden era of men’s tennis it is the 25-year-old Serb’s extraordinary ability to cover the court and deliver winners from anywhere, and this is the image that will linger as the sport heads into its brief off-season."
And while the 2012 season is now over, there could be more to come in 2013. "The year-on-year war between the top four shows little sign of abating," declared The Guardian. "Together, they won 14 of the 15 biggest titles on offer this year, with a different champion in each major. Djokovic won his 75th match of the season here to secure his sixth tournament victory of 2012. Andy Murray, who lost to both of the finalists this week, is only a clipped net cord behind both finalists."