No respite for Federer as Djokovic clash looms

Sun Nov 3, 2013 10:30am EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - There is no let-up for Roger Federer as he prepares for his 12th consecutive appearance at the ATP's season-ending extravaganza.

The oldest player in the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals draw at 32, the six-times former champion will begin on Tuesday against world number two Novak Djokovic, having come tantalizingly close to beating the Serb powerhouse in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Wins against the big-guns are becoming something of a rarity these days for the 17-times grand slam champion whose days of lording it over the sport may be over but whose box-office appeal is still as strong as ever.

For the first time in more than a decade Federer's place in the season finale was in jeopardy after a year, which by his own sky high standards has been lean, left him scrapping for points as the summer days turned into autumn.

Thankfully for the ATP, especially with British favorite Andy Murray absent after back surgery, Federer's strong run in Basel where he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the final and again at the Paris Masters where he succumbed to Djokovic in the semis guaranteed his place.

The world number six may not be a title favorite when play begins alongside the River Thames at the O2 Arena, but few would wager much money against him producing a timely reminder of his powers as he aims to hold back the sands of time.

An opener against Djokovic is a tough proposition though.

"It's unusual, no doubt about it, back-to-back matches against Novak," Federer, who was a set and a break up against the Serb on Saturday before being overpowered, said.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland leaves the court after being defeated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their semi-final match at the Paris Masters men's singles tennis tournament at the Palais Omnisports of Bercy in Paris, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Christophe Saidi/Pool