Federer walks off into shadows with clock ticking

Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:06pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Roger Federer slid his racket into his bag and walked off into the shadows of London's o2 Arena on Sunday as his leanest season since 2001 came to a rather predictable end at the hands of Rafa Nadal.

The 32-year-old's 7-5 6-3 defeat in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals ended his hopes of winning the title for a seventh time and with his ranking now on the slide there is no telling if he will ever return at the season-ender.

Federer, who has spent a record 302 weeks as world No.1 during his glittering career, preferred to look at the positives after his 22nd career defeat by Nadal.

The Swiss 17-times grand slam champion pointed to his strong finish to a disappointing year, with a final in Basel followed by a semi-final run at the Paris Masters and wins over world No.5 Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet in London.

He also pushed Novak Djokovic hard in Paris where he was a set and a break up and also here this week while on Sunday against Nadal he matched the Spaniard for the first 10 games.

The statistics are beginning to stack up against him, however, and inevitable questions are being raised about Federer's prospects for 2014.

His one title this year was on grass at Halle.

At Wimbledon, as defending champion, his proud record of reaching at least the quarter-finals at 36 consecutive grand slams ended in the second round, almost unthinkably, against 116th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland walks onto the court to face Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's singles semi-final tennis match at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez