The ATP World Tour Finals provided a fitting end to the 2012 tennis season, with the final appropriately featuring the only two players this year to have occupied first and second place in the ATP rankings since the absence of Nadal – Djokovic and Federer. The result was also somewhat appropriate, with Djokovic edging Federer in a high quality match, just as he had edged Federer during the latter stages of the season to take back the world number one ranking – Djokovic using his remarkable ability to turn defence into attack to counter Federer’s shot making abilities. Djokovic’s victory is also all the more fitting when looking back on the year as a whole, as amazingly, with exception to Paris and his quarter-final at Madrid, he reached the semi-final or better of every tournament this year, marking him as the most consistent player on tour; for Djokovic, his victory in London provides a pleasing symmetry to the season, complementing his maiden victory of 2012 at the Australian Open, finishing as he started, by winning.
Aside from the two finalists, the season-ending finale also provided a good and fitting account for the other members of men’s tennis elite (with exception to a recuperating Nadal). Britain’s Andy Murray gave a respectable showing, just coming short to the world number 1, and, until the second set, he held his own against Federer in the semi-finals, whilst a resurgent Del Potro would also reach the semi-finals, pushing Djokovic to a deciding set and even claiming a second successive victory over Federer in the group stages. Ferrer and Berdych supplied their typified brands of tenacity and solidity and even Tipsarevic, who was suffering from illness, and Tsonga, whose relationship with new coach Roger Rasheed has yet to blossom, provided the tournament with moments of brilliance only the top players are capable of producing. A fitting end to the season, then?
Yes, and no. For all of the brilliant consistency of the top players, and the theatricality of London’s O2 arena, there is a deserved, but nonetheless present, sense of elitist exclusivity to the tournament. Having the top eight players in the world square off against each other in a round robin event is no doubt a fantastic way to end the season, producing high quality tennis, drama and entertainment, but one cannot help but speculate on whether the introduction of an unknown quantity, such as a wild card, as in Grand Slam and Masters series tournaments, would add an element of unpredictability which is otherwise absent from the end of year tournament.
This year, there would have been no more worthy candidate for a wild card than 22 year old Jerzy Janowicz. Janowicz, or to use his inevitable nickname ‘JJ’, would certainly add some spice as a wild card to any tournament featuring the top players in the world. His exciting brand of all court tennis which combines baseline ability and deft net play gives him the capacity to pose the most legitimate threat (save for perhaps Raonic) of all the up-and-coming young players. With very impressive movement for a player of 6 ft 8 in, and the possessor of a booming serve and groundstrokes, it would be fascinating to see how a young player such as Janowicz would fare against the top players in the world after he demonstrated his ability in beating both Tipsarevic and Murray on his way to the Paris final. Sadly, this is an almost certain impossibility, but it will nevertheless be very interesting to see how Janowicz and his contemporary young stars develop in 2013, as they themselves strive to qualify into the world’s tennis elite.