Tennis: Clay talk holds no focus for Federer

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria hits a forehand during his 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 ATP Tour Finals victory over Dominic Thiem of Austria yesterday. He squandered two match points when serving for the match but clinched the third.
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria hits a forehand during his 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 ATP Tour Finals victory over Dominic Thiem of Austria yesterday. He squandered two match points when serving for the match but clinched the third.PHOTO: REUTERS

Swiss at odds with Nadal's suggestion to play the ATP Tour Finals on his favourite surface

LONDON • Roger Federer has dismissed Rafael Nadal's claim that it would be fairer if the ATP Tour Finals were played on clay courts.

As the world's most formidable player on clay, Nadal has in the past suggested it would be better if the season-ender at least occasionally took place on his preferred surface.

The prestigious event has never been held on clay since its inception in 1970 and it is a tournament which Nadal has yet win. It has mostly been played on an indoor hard courts, with other stints on carpet, grass and outdoor hard courts when it was staged in various cities before setting up home in London in 2009.

Federer has always thrived on the indoor hard court used at the O2 Arena, as he showed once again by kicking off his bid for a seventh title at the event with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over Jack Sock on Sunday.

Asked about the world No. 1's desire for a clay finale to the season, the Swiss insisted the current surface was a good choice given the preponderance of other events on the crushed earth. There are three Masters 1000 events held on clay, with none on the faster grass that Federer prefers.

Of the Grand Slams, only the French Open - won 10 times by Nadal - is on clay, while Wimbledon, where Federer has triumphed eight times - is on grass.

"Fair? I'm not sure if it's the right word. I think it's right and fair that it's indoors, as well," said Federer, who has not triumphed at the season-ender since 2011. "There are no Masters 1000s on grass. There is one Masters 1000 indoors: Paris. So I feel like indoors also deserves its place.

"Could it be switched up to clay once in a while? Yeah, maybe. Could we have more 1000s on grass? Yeah, we could have that, too. Could we have less on clay, more or hard courts? Could we have more or hard courts, less on clay? Yes, it's all debatable. I think it's not the time of the year for clay, so there you have it.

"You can do indoor clay, I guess, but that's a bit silly. But I get his point."

In the other match in Federer's group on Sunday, German Alexander Zverev defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, and will next face the Swiss today.

Federer will make the semi-finals with a round-robin game to spare if he defeats Zverev in straight sets or if he beats Zverev and Jack Sock defeats Cilic.

In yesterday's first singles match, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov defeated Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'Clay talk holds no focus for Federer'. Print Edition | Subscribe