During the BNP Paribas WTA Finals, Caroline Wozniacki “helped” Aga Radwanska qualify for the semis and Simona Halep “helped” out Serena Williams in a similar vein by not allowing Ana Ivanovic to win in straight sets during their match in the round robin series which sent Williams into the final four.
The “helping” trend has followed through at the BNP Paribas Masters in Bercy with Novak Djokovic being “helped” along by Milos Raonic – Novak certainly didn’t offer any thanks as he beat Raonic quite handily in the final 6-2, 6-3 for his 20th ATP Masters 1000 title and became the first player to win back-to-back titles at the BNP Paribas Masters.
The way Raonic helped Djokovic was by beating Roger Federer in the quarters. It was the first time the Canadian had beaten the Swiss and he picked quite a time to do it.
Coming into Bercy, Federer was only 490 points behind Djokovic in the race for No.1. It was looking good for Federer because he had the potential to gain points having lost in the semis last year and Djokovic had the task of defending winner’s points from last year.
By losing in the quarters the roles were reversed because Federer didn’t defend the necessary points from 2013 and that allowed Djokovic to gain the advantage.
The world No.1 now has a buffer of 1,310 points which makes it just that bit tougher for Federer, albeit not impossible, and that’s obviously put a bigger smile of Djokovic’s face.
“I see it better now than one week ago, that's for sure,” said Djokovic of the race. “It helps that I won the title in Bercy, that I'm playing well, and that I'm feeling good about myself on the court playing indoors. That encourages me, as I said before, prior to the last event of the year.
“Now, I cannot affect his own matches. I can affect only what I can do in my own matches. So I'll try to, you know, kind of stay determined to what I need to do and play well in London. Every match that I play, every match that I play and win, gets me closer to holding No. 1 the end of the year.”
Certainly there is still a chance for Federer to snatch the honour away at the last minute and if he did, he would equal Pete Sampras with the most year-end No.1finishes in the Open-era – Sampras did it six times.
It has been a truly amazing turnaround by Federer when you consider he had dropped to eight in the world following the Australian Open and there were so many people questioning whether he could stay in the top 10. By the way, the last time he was ranked No.1 was the week of 29 October, 2012.
Djokovic said that the way Federer has been playing is not too surprising for him.
“I always considered him, regardless of his age or speculations or his season last year that wasn't up to his standards, I still considered him even last year and this year, of course, and every year that he's going to play as one of the top players,” said Djokovic.
“He is one of the top contenders to win all the major titles and to compete for the top spot. Obviously he got used to the racquet change, and I think he's swinging through the backhand shot much better now. He improved his game a lot since last year.
“I think maybe he's playing some of the best tennis of his career, in my opinion. I don't think age really matters in his case.”
If Federer does sneak in and get No.1, he will create more milestones and history in the continuation of his illustrious career. The next couple of weeks promise to be quite engrossing.