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10 things to take away from the World Tour Finals

Novak Djokovic lay claim to being the player of 2012
by Mark Hodgkinson
Wednesday 14 November 2012
1. This tennis year, culminating with a pulsating final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, was as good as it is ever going to get for London's tennis public. Never again will the city have the tennis fix that it has had this year, with 37 days of elite men's tennis in the capital in 2012 - seven days of the pre-Wimbledon tournament at Queen's Club, thirteen days of The Championships at Wimbledon, the nine-day Olympic tennis competition at the All England Club and the eight-day season finale at The O2. And it is not as if the tennis that has been played has lacked either quality or drama. Or lacked Federer, given that Monday night in Greenwich was his third final of the year in London, having won Wimbledon and then took the silver medal at the Olympics. We are in the middle of a golden age for the men's game, and this was London's golden year. 
2. Still, the city won't do that badly over the next three years, after the announcement that the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals are to stay here until 2015. Over the past four years, more than a million tickets have been sold. 
3. If anyone was in any doubt as to what this tournament means to the elite, just consider the vigour with which Novak Djokovic celebrated his victory, a win which stopped Roger Federer becoming the first man since Ivan Lendl in the 1980s to win three consecutive titles (the Swiss, had he won, would also have reached a record seven tournament victories, and confirmed his status as the greatest indoor player of all time). While Djokovic's 2012 has not touched the heights of his 2011, it was never going to.
So the Serb is not about to complain about a year in which he won a fifth Grand Slam title, with victory at the Australian Open, and won the season-ending championships for the second occasion. Djokovic goes into the off-season as the both the world No.1 and the King of Greenwich. We shall see in Melbourne in January, at the Australian Open, whether momentum built up indoors in the northern-hemisphere winter can be carried over to summertime in the southern hemisphere. 
4. Novak Djokovic is more than capable of great tennis when he has off-court concerns - his father has had health problems in recent days. 
5. Roger Federer, despite his straight-sets defeat in the final, produced more than enough classy tennis on Monday evening - and also earlier in the tournament - to confirm that he remains as motivated as ever. Wasn't this tournament supposed to be a showcase of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's rivalry, to be the event which demonstrated that they had bumped Federer aside? That was not how it looked during this final. So who would be at all surprised if next November we saw Federer winning this title for a seventh time? 
6. The actor Kevin Spacey, quickly becoming Andy Murray's celebrity cheerleader-in-chief, has disclosed that he likes "the majesty" of tennis. 
7. Even though Andy Murray was beaten in the semi-finals, there are still a fair few observers contending that he should be regarded as the player of the year, for winning Olympic gold and his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. There is a good case for him, as there is for Novak Djokovic and for Roger Federer (who this season became the first man to spend more than 300 weeks of his career at the top of the rankings).
8. Andy Murray won't be able to relax for long during the close-season. He will be working on his fitness at a boot camp in Miami. He will also be trying to think of what to buy Ivan Lendl for Christmas.   
9. It's still possible to be shocked by Roger Federer's popularity. One of those occasions was when he played Andy Murray in the last four at the weekend, and there was almost as much, if not more, support for the Swiss than there was for Britain's first grand slam champion since the 1930s. Still, don't imagine that playing at The O2 was a hellish experience for the Scot. Many in the crowd were pro-Federer, not anti-Murray. 
10. Juan Martin Del Potro's forehand could do some damage when the elite reconvene at the Australian Open. 

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

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