- Ravi Ubha, Tennis
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Another day, another record for Roger Federer.
When Federer beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-1 at the World Tour Finals, he surpassed Ivan Lendl for the most men's wins at the year-end championships with 40.
A few thoughts on the 69-minute demolition job, which opened play in Group B:
Tipsy and the toss
The Federer-Tipsarevic encounter rekindled memories of the 2008 Australian Open, when the Serbian took the Swiss to five sets and lost 10-8 in the decider. Even if Federer was ill with a mild case of mono, it was an impressive performance by Tipsarevic.
But since then, he'd conceded seven straight sets to Federer -- without breaking serve. A good start was thus imperative Tuesday.
Somewhat strangely, when Tipsarevic won the toss, instead of choosing to serve and putting Federer slightly out of his comfort zone, he elected to receive. Federer prefers serving first. Federer duly held, broke and held again for 3-0, which he has done so many times in his glittering career. First set over.
"The problem was that he got an early break in both sets," Tipsarevic said.
Oh, and Tipsarevic never did break Federer or even earn a break point. Federer's first-serve percentage of 51 was low, yet he dropped a mere one point behind the first delivery.
A relaxed Fed
Federer landed in the less difficult of the two groups at the World Tour Finals, and in meeting Tipsarevic, who is only competing because of an injury to Rafael Nadal, he had the perfect first opponent.
With Tipsarevic not posing a threat to Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was allowed to ease into the eight-man event. Contrast that with David Ferrer, who must face Juan Martin del Potro in the evening session. A protracted battle looms.
Federer was so comfortable that in the second set, leading by a break, he attempted a drop shot off a Tipsarevic second serve. It's not a tactic often seen (and Tipsarevic ran down the ball). The most danger came during the handshake, since Tipsarevic suspected he has been dealing with a virus; Federer, the two-time defending champion, won't want to catch anything with tougher matches upcoming.
Multiple Grand Slam winner Boris Becker and Grand Slam finalist Greg Rusedski, who are working for local broadcaster Sky Sports, gushed about Federer's display, and as usual, there were indeed moments of Federer's brilliance. His movement in chasing down an angled Tipsarevic backhand near the net in the second set, for example, was sublime. He didn't look 31 in that moment.
"I feel like I'm striking the ball [well] after today," said Federer, who was defeated by del Potro at home in Basel, Switzerland, about a week ago. "I hope it's a sign for more to come hopefully. But everything can be different in my next press conference. I don't want to get too ahead of myself."
But Federer wasn't at the apex of his game, committing 16 unforced errors. Once he led by a break in the first, he coasted, and he sprayed balls early in the second. Simply, he knew he could win not having to go full tilt.
Illness and a lingering shoulder injury didn't make Tipsarevic's task any easier. He shook his head several times during the match, unable to hide his frustration.
Though he strikes the ball extremely hard, Tipsarevic can't match del Potro or Tomas Berdych, for example. Tipsarevic doesn't generate much movement on the ball, and because he can't find the angles like a Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray, Federer was hardly stretched outside the tram lines.
The gap between Tipsarevic, who was ninth in the race to London, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, eighth, is a large one.
"London was a big goal of mine this year, and I'm really thrilled that I managed to achieve it," said Tipsarevic, who is tied among the top 20 players for the most tournaments contested in 2012 entering the World Tour Finals. "But a big goal of mine for next year would be to go deeper in the Grand Slams, which means I can organize my schedule better."
For now, he'll be relieved that Federer is out of his way.