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November 22, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Federer eyes year-end top spot

ROGER Federer held court in a plush hotel on the banks of the River Thames on Friday and left nobody in any doubt he was determined to become only the second male player to reclaim the year-end No. 1 spot.

The Swiss 15-time grand slam champion can finish the year in what he feels is his rightful place with a strong showing at the ATP Tour World Finals which begin their five-year residence in London today.

Should he hold off Rafael Nadal, the man who ended his record 237-week reign at the top last year but had to hand it back after missing Wimbledon through injury, Federer will emulate Ivan Lendl.

Since computer rankings were introduced only Lendl, in 1989, has managed to retrieve the ATP year-end top spot -- a fact not lost on Federer who has claimed a sackful of tennis records.

"I'm aware of it, that's for sure," Federer, who has wife Mirka and twin daughters Charlene and Myla for company this week, told reporters. "I would be lying if I said I'm just here to play well. I'm here to win the tournament and try to stay as the No. 1 in the world."

While his 945-point lead over Nadal in the standings looks comfortable, Federer has landed the tougher draw in the round-robin stage with Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, the man who beat him in the US Open final, Spain's Fernando Verdasco and home favorite Andy Murray with him in Group A.

All three look testing for Federer, who has played just six Tour matches since losing to del Potro in New York, and with 1,500 points up for grabs for any player who wins the title undefeated he is taking nothing for granted.

Murray, in particular, has caused Federer plenty of headaches in the past, winning six of their nine matches, but Federer is relishing going head to head with the Scot.

"I hope so," the 28-year-old replied when asked about the prospect of playing Murray in the round-robin and then again in the final. "If I beat him twice, that means I'm in the finals, he's in the finals and everybody is happy. Right?

"I'm looking forward to the match with Murray, we've had a few good ones this year and we played in the World Tour Finals last year and had a great match together.

"But first I want to make a good start (today) against Verdasco. The competition is really stiff so it won't be an easy task for me or Rafa if we want to get the No. 1 spot. It's fun that it's on the line here in London, though."

Nadal takes on Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Sweden's Robin Soderling in Group B.


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