ATP Finals Preview - Roger Federer

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ATP Finals Preview - Roger Federer

The six-time ATP Finals champion Roger Federer has been preparing for his 16th appearance at this event in the last 17 seasons, reaching the semi-final on debut in 2002 and advancing into the title match 10 times after the record-breaking 55 match wins at the premium ATP event.

The 37-year-old Swiss is among the oldest players who still have the place on the ATP rankings list and despite that fact he is still the force to be reckoned with, winning four ATP titles in 2018 and setting more age records that will take some beating if the main rivals want to overcome him in the following five years or so.

Roger claimed 46 wins on the Tour so far this year, spending the biggest part of it ranked second and never leaving the Top 3, lifting his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open where he defended the crown won 12 months ago in that epic final against Rafael Nadal.

Roger didn't play at the same level as in 2017 but that was hardly expected at first place after all he achieved in the previous season, still giving his best in 12 tournaments he played so far to keep himself among the best players in the world.

In addition, Roger became the oldest world number 1 after winning Rotterdam in February to claim the ATP throne for the first time since November 2012! Roger is the Tour leading player with seven ATP finals, reaching the 150th ATP final as the second player in the Open era after Jimmy Connors.

Federer's first serve is still the weapon to beat, standing as one of four players with 80% of the first serve points won in 2018 after Milos Raonic, Sam Querrey and John Isner, and he is just behind Rafael Nadal at the top of the second serve efficiency leaderboard! Roger has won 652 out of 714 service games in 2018 to stand second after John Isner and he is also among the best players when it comes to break points saving, repelling 142 out of 204 he faced in 54 matches so far.

The main problem for the Swiss compared to 2017 is his return, falling from the eighth place from last season to barely stay inside the Top 20 in 2018, unable to make the difference in some tight matches and losing a few encounters after missing a chance to put the rival on more pressure in return games.

Despite that and the fact he scored just two Top 10 wins, it has been another great season for the veteran who has proven his quality and everlasting class and the ability to fight against much younger rivals. After winning the Hopman Cup with Belinda Bencic, Roger turned the clock around at the Australian Open for the second year in a row, using the favorable draw to reach the final without losing a set and defeating Marin Cilic 6-2 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 there in three hours and three minutes for his 20th Major crown and the place in the record books.

At the age of 36 years and 173 days, Roger has become the second oldest Grand Slam champion in the Open era after Ken Rosewall and he has joined Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall as the third player with four Major titles after turning 30.

In addition, Roger is the third player with six titles at the Australian Open after Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic. Three weeks later, Federer continued his amazing streak in 2018, beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-2 in the final of Rotterdam to pass Rafael Nadal on the ATP rankings list (Roger asked for a surprising wildcard for this event) and become the oldest number 1 since the start of the rankings in 1973! Roger was the favorite at Indian Wells as well but he failed to defend the title, wasting three match points in a 6-4 6-7 7-6 loss to Juan Martin del Potro in two hours and 42 minutes to lose the first match in 2018 after 17 official wins.

Miami title he won in 2017 was gone as well, losing at the start of the tournament to Thanasi Kokkinakis in the deciding tie break, with the young Aussie becoming the lowest-ranked player who defeated the world number 1 since Francisco Clavet who beat Lleyton Hewitt here in Miami 15 years ago.

After Miami, Roger lost the lead in the ATP rankings and he decided to skip the entire clay season, just like in 2017, in order to get some rest and prepare for the grass season. There, he took down Nick Kyrgios in the semi-final of Stuttgart after a great fight, winning the last two points at 5-5 in the deciding tie break to reach the final and become world number 1 again.

In the final, Federer beat Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 for his 98th ATP title and the 18th on the grass, winning 21 out of 23 matches so far in 2018. A week later, Federer didn't play that well in Halle, battling past four rivals to reach the final that he lost 7-6 3-6 6-2 to Borna Coric, failing to win the 10th title at this event.

Roger hit 70 winners and he won nine points more than Borna but it wasn't enough to cross the finish line first, with Borna becoming the sixth-youngest player who managed to beat Roger on grass. After Indian Wells, Miami and Halle, Roger couldn't defend the title at Wimbledon as well, losing a crazy match against Kevin Anderson 13-11 in the fifth set in the quarter-final, wasting a match point in four hours and 14 minutes epic.

This was the fifth encounter that Federer lost after leading two sets to love and he took a month off to get ready for Cincinnati where he was hoping for the better fortune. He survived a tough battle against Stan Wawrinka to reach the final where Novak Djokovic proved to be too strong, scoring a 6-4 6-4 win to complete a Career Golden Masters and leave Roger empty-handed.

The US Open delivered another disappointing result for the great Swiss, losing the fourth round clash against John Millman who has become the first player ranked outside the Top 50 who toppled Roger in New York, prevailing 3-6 7-5 7-6 7-6 after three hours and 34 minutes.

After taking another month off, Roger lost his Shanghai title to Borna Coric who scored a great 6-4 6-4 win in the semi-final, never facing a break point and breaking Roger once in each set for the place in his first Masters 1000 final.

Things didn't work that well for Roger in Basel either but he found the way to reach the 14th final in his hometown and win the ninth title after a 7-6 6-4 triumph over Marius Copil, his 20th in a row in Basel. This was the 99th title for Roger in a career and he had a chance to seek the 100th in Paris, reaching the semi-final where he lost a super tight match against Novak Djokovic 7-6 5-7 7-6 despite never losing his serve! This was one of the best matches these two have played and maybe we will see another one in the title match at the ATP Finals, standing as the favourites next week in London where they already won 11 titles between 2003-2015. Roger Federer's best results in 2018: