Tennis

Federer starts ATP Finals with win

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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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LONDON

After taking care of Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-1 in his first round robin match at the ATP Tour World Finals here, Roger Federer was asked what he wasn't good at, a reasonable question for someone who comes across as Mr. Perfect.

ROGER, ROGER

Roger Federer has won a few trophies in his day. A look at his Grand Slam triumphs.

"I can't cook," Federer smiled. "There's many things I can't do that I wish I could do. I can't skate. I would love to do that."

So Federer is a non-skating Swiss which probably puts him in a minority. "Yeah, there are many things for me to look forward to hopefully, things I can either improve or learn from scratch. I'm far from perfect."

Over to Tipsarevic for his take on the maestro. Responding to someone who suggested that Federer might have been a little lucky to be able to maintain excellence year in and year out, Tipsareic replied, "I think Roger Federer is everything but lucky. People see him play this flawless tennis and say, ‘Oh, life is so easy for Roger, he's so talented.'

"He is talented but there's so much work behind that. Of course the fact that he was born with that magic hand of his is a plus. But I think Roger is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — professionals that the sport has ever had. Throughout his career, he is always putting tennis as the No. 1 thing in his life, never doing anything to damage his professional tennis career. This is the reason why he has such durability and was almost never injured during his career. This is my take on that. It has nothing to do with luck."

That sort of accolade gives you some idea of why his fellow players keep giving him the ATP Sportsmanship Award each year. And it is now 10 years that the fans have voted for him as their favorite player. Federer does not take it lightly.

"For me, that's a big thrill," he said. "Probably one of the reasons why I'm still playing today. No doubt about it, they are inspiring me and motivating me to show up and practice and give my best because I do feel I have big support and I do feel I need to reward them for their support. Yeah, 10 is an amazing number. I can't believe it's been that long. All I can say is thank you in a big way."

Spending the better part of two days in bed with a cold is not the best preparation for playing Federer and Tipsarevic was basically hiding to nothing in this match. Feeling no pressure and well rested after missing Paris, Federer played pretty close to Mr. Perfect.

"I would probably have lost anyway," admitted Tipsarevic who went into the match with an 0-5 record against the Swiss. "But the problem was, he got an early break in both sets. Everybody knows that when Roger starts leading, he's probably the best player in the world."

Looked like it today but sterner tests lie ahead for the man who can't cook.

Ferrer on a roll

There is no cure for fatigue like victory and David Ferrer has been on a roll these past three weeks. He won the ATP title in his hometown of Valencia; then capatured his first Masters 1000 title in Paris on Sunday. On Tuesday, he extended his winning streak to 11 when he defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the night match here in front of a packed house of 17,600.

Per usual, it was Ferrer's ground strokes that proved too much for the tall Argentine to handle. Having won the second set, it seemed as if del Potro would have the upper hand against a tired opponent in the third but Ferrer's answer to that was to be more aggressive and go after his opponent's massive serve. He broke immediately and repelled all del Potro's efforts to get back into the match.

Ferrer credits his recent success to a more aggressive approach. "I am playing more aggressive with my shots," he said. "I am changing my backhand, no? I am playing with more slice and am going more to the net to finish the points."

Ferrer admitted he was a little tired after just one day off but now he will get another one before he meets Federer on Thursday. The World No. 5 has beaten everyone above him except the Swiss. "Roger Federer - he's an unbelievable player," Ferrer said. "He's very good. So maybe the difference with him is that he's better than me, no?"

Maybe that's why Ferrer is so popular in the locker room. He's just so honest.

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