Crocked Federer hands Djokovic year-end title by default

Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:40pm EST
 
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - A mouth-watering finale to the season ended before it even began on Sunday when Roger Federer was forced to pull out through injury prior to his ATP World Tour Final showdown with world number one Novak Djokovic.

The 33-year-old Swiss, who spent two hours 48 minutes defeating compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka in a brutal semi-final the previous night, announced his decision on court as the 17,000-seat O2 Arena filled up.

It meant Djokovic became the first man to win the title three years in succession since Ivan Lendl in 1987.

World number two Federer, who was bidding for a seventh title at the year-ender, apologised but told the crowd he was not "match-fit" after developing a back problem.

Looking as stylish as ever as he stood on the blue indoor surface wearing a red and grey cardigan, Federer apologised, saying: "I hope you understand I wanted to come out personally and excuse myself for not playing ... I can't compete without a back at this level."

Despite the huge anti-climax for the crowd, some of whom had forked out thousands of pounds for a courtside ticket, there was no booing, with applause breaking out as seven-times Wimbledon champion Federer spoke.

Explaining how the injury arose, Federer said later: "I was feeling great until yesterday's tiebreaker. I felt all of a sudden the back was feeling funny.

"I tried to have treatment on it, medication, just tried to turn around as quick as possible really, but didn't really feel much of an improvement overnight."   Continued...

 
Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after winning his semi-final tennis match against Kei Nishikori of Japan at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 15, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville