In case you’re wondering, WTF here refers to the World Tour Finals – the season-ending prestigious ATP tournament held at the end of every season, featuring ONLY the top eight tennis players of the year. In a way, this is the toughest tournament of the year for the professionals – with every match virtually bordering on Grand Slam semifinal-final standards. Players like Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer are forced to face off early in the group stages itself, with every match having a price on its head. There are no easy encounters, and no free lunches.
This season’s edition is already underway at the O2 in London (it used to be held at Shanghai before London). Old master Federer already defeated reigning World Champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets in their Stan Smith Group – finishing the top of this group once again.
Since this tournament comes at the fag end of an exhausting and brutal tour season, most top players find it difficult to provide one last hurrah for the year. But the ones who are consistent, and the ones who pace themselves and their bodies better than others (Djokovic, Federer) are the ones who finish the season on the high. They don’t let go even at this very last tournament, for they know that these titles – only second to Grand Slams – will probably determine how great they are at the end of their careers. Therefore, it’s a telling stat that Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have NEVER won this tournament, and Roger Federer (6) and Novak Djokovic (4) share 10 titles between them. That’s a decade of season-ending Masters titles, just between these two players.
But there’s much more to Federer’s six titles. He holds numerous records, but none more impressive than the one at this event. One of my most enduring memories of the Champion his the way he attempted to finish the 2005 season in Shanghai at this event, in the final against David Nalbandian. Back then, it was a best-of-5 final, and Federer was up two sets to 0, before injuring his back. He would have finished his season at 82-3 if he had won another set, but he limped through the next three sets, and didn’t retire, handing Nalbandian the title, and finishing at 81-4 for the season.
He is known for his longevity and consistency, but this is taking it to another level – one that only Novak Djokovic is now close to.
Let’s take a look at the 34-year old Swiss star’s numbers:
14: Number of times Roger Federer has featured in this tournament (consecutively since 2002, beating Ivan Lendl’s 12)
13: Number of times he has gone past the group stages into the knockouts (only in 2008, he fell to Murray in the groups)
9: Number of times, including 2015, Federer has had a 100% 3-0 record in the group stages
6: Number of titles won here (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011)
5: Number of times he has won the tournament undefeated (except 2007)
3: Number of times he has finished as runners-up (2005, 2012, 2014)
0: Number of times Federer has not finished in the top 5 since 2002
51: Number of matches won by Federer at this event (including 3-0 at 2015), beating Ivan Lendl’s 39 by a margin
3: Number of times he has won this event consecutively in his career (03, 04, 06, 07, 10, 11)
83: Federer’s high winning percentage at this event
4: Number of years it has been since he has won the event
11: Number of matches he has lost at this tournament in 14 years