Chalkdust Chronicles – Sad end to a low-key tournament
(November 16, 2014) LONDON – After semi-finals that finally set the tournament alight, there was an audible gasp from the crowds who had gathered for the Finals as Roger Federer wandered out in a cardigan and trousers to announce that he was pulling out of the ATP World Tour Finals with World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.
The rumors had already been circulating when he had not shown up for practice, having opted for one of the courts in the public area and not on the main court.
As the announcement was made to media to take to the court for the announcement, it seemed a fitting end to one of the strangest tournaments, with the only shining lights being the semi-finals.
“Unfortunately I’m not match fit,” Federer said to the crowd at the O2 Arena. “I tried everything I could last night, also today: painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end. But I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.”
In a muted on-court presentation, for his third consecutive title, Djokovic said:
“I feel really sorry for Roger. If he could have come out and played, he would have done.”
People who had paid good money for the tickets over the entire week have been disappointed over the week with heavy one-sided matches in the singles until the semi-finals.
However the gasping audience were partially mollified with the news that Djokovic would be playing Andy Murray in a pro-set followed by another exhibition match pitting Murray with John McEnroe against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.
Meanwhile Swiss thoughts must turn to how they mentally and physically prepare for the Davis Cup on French clay, as that had to have been part of Federer’s decision to pull out.
A further complication arises as John McEnroe hinted at a fall out with the Swiss team that went on well into the night. During the match Wawrinka had seemed to have an angry altercation with someone in Federer’s box, and with them being the mainstays of the Swiss team, could spell a mental triumph for the French team before they all even step on court.
The World Tour Finals of 2014 will not be known as one of the classics, and if next year should be its last year in London, hopefully it will go out with a bang, and not the whimper of this year.
Federer’s message on his Facebook page: