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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

ATP World Tour Finals: Federer looking good to end excellent season on a high with one eye on 2018

With Nadal recuperating from an injury, Swiss master could win an eighth title in 2017 and set himself up well for new season

Given Roger Federer had begun 2017 ranked at No 16 and without a major win since 2012, this has been quite the turnaround. Tony O'Brien / Reuters
Given Roger Federer had begun 2017 ranked at No 16 and without a major win since 2012, this has been quite the turnaround. Tony O'Brien / Reuters

After a season in which he has rolled back the years on the tennis court, Roger Federer's final goal of 2017 is to walk away as the winner of the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Federer is already the most successful player in the event (which went by the name Masters Cup until 2009), having won it six times in the past, most recently in 2011.

Add to that four runners-up spots, and the Swiss player's history at the event is pretty formidable.

He starts his campaign for a seventh title on Sunday at the 02 Arena in London against Belgian David Goffin, and with world No 1 Rafael Nadal's participation in doubt due to a knee injury, he is overwhelming favourite to prevail in the final on November 19.

Federer, 36, is in the Boris Becker group in England's capital along with Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Jack Sock.

The world No 2 has beaten all three men this year, though he did lose to Zverev in the Montreal final in August when a back problem appeared to limit him on court.

So, he should be confident of at least making the last four and from there anything less then achieving an eight title of the year, his best year for tournament honours since 2007, would be a disappointment for him.

Given Federer had begun the year ranked at No 16 and without a grand slam win since July 2012, this has been quite the turnaround.

Winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon were the high points of the year, but he has been consistent with only four defeats in 53 matches.

Federer said on Friday that he partly credited having a quieter schedule than his rivals for his success.

Federer has played 24 matches less than Nadal, having chosen to sit out at the entire clay court season, and has been careful not to put too much pressure on his body.

Nadal may be ending the year at No 1, but Federer is in a position to end the year with the momentum and with his body still in a healthy state.

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He chose to sit out the Paris Masters earlier this month with one eye on London, and he said: "This year I ended up playing much less than I thought I would. Because of the great start to the season I didn't have to push it that much to be honest, which was great."

Whether Federer can keep up this form in 2018, or this was a final swansong at the top of the game before his age finally caught up with, will be one of the fascinating narratives of next year's action, along with the returns from injury of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.