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Rusedski: ‘This year’s event could be the best ever’

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Originally published on: 18/11/10 17:15

tennishead grabbed a quick chat with former world No.4 Greg Rusedski to get his feelings on the up-coming Barclays ATP World Tour Finals…

So here we are, at Barclays ATP World Tour Finals once more. Who do you think will be the main contenders for the title?

At the moment the top four guys are playing very well, with Federer just winning in Basel, Murray winning in Shanghai, Djokovic playing so well at the US Open and Nadal is just Nadal. He is just having a phenomenal season, winning three of the four majors and is now looking to do the ‘Nadal Slam’ at the beginning of next year at the Australian Open, and he would like to play well here because last year he didn’t play very well.

He had a lot of personal issues with his parents getting divorced, so it was very difficult for him to play his best tennis. The blessing for Nadal is that he took the week off during Paris and he will be ready for the O2, so I expect him to play a lot better than he did last year.

Who do you think can challenge Nadal here?

I would go for Murray, Federer and then Djokovic third. Federer is changing his game at the moment; he has gone back to the way he used to play, more serve and volley tennis, being more aggressive like he was when he was a 19-year-old when he beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. He is having to change his game a little bit to compete with these guys because the older you get, unfortunately you go a bit slower. But he still moves phenomenally well but when you are talking about playing a bunch of 20-year-olds…that is what they are trying to work on with Paul Annacone – being more aggressive, shortening points and for him to say ‘hey look, I am back boys – I can beat you in a round robin format,’ so for him that is very important. He has won this title before but for him it is about establishing himself for next year.

If you look at Murray, he had that great run in Shanghai. Valencia was a bit of a disappointment because he just mentally wasn’t there and that is a question mark, but being in London last year and missing out by one game to Del Potro to get to the semi-finals will motivate him, as will it being a home event. The O2 would be the biggest event he has won to date. He has been to the major finals, he has won the Masters Series but to win at home would be massive for him. It is a stepping stone because he has done everything apart from win a major, and this is the closest competition – especially having the best eight players in the world. Psychologically I think it will help him a lot going into the majors next year.

This year is in a totally different league because going into the O2 this year a lot of guys are going to be fresher. Rafael Nadal is going to be fresher, Federer is going to be fresher, Murray is going to be fresh and Djokovic is going to be fresh and if you look back to last year a lot of guys were a little bit tired so this year’s event could be the best ever.

Nadal has openly said that this will be the hardest event for him to win. Why is this?

The reason Rafa probably said that is because he has exerted more energy than any other player because of the amount of work he put in to get to win the US Open. His training the week before was ridiculous. He was like training two and a half hours a day. Mentally to have accomplished that goal, becoming the youngest men in the Open era to win all four majors, the strain is understandable. He is taking it seriously as you can see from that week off.

If you look at a Slam for example, in your first one or two rounds you don’t have to be sharp. Coming into the World Tour Finals you need to be sharp straight away because you’ll be dealing with the top eight best players in the world, you are playing on a court, which last year was low bouncing, which isn’t always favourable for Nadal. On top of that, you are talking about guys who can hit the ball hard, with people like Robin Soderling and Berdych – those guys are going to be very dangerous for Nadal as they can hit through him on a low bouncing court, and on top of that is the Federer, Djokovic, Murray combination it is going to be pretty tough. That is why it is going to be such a challenge for him.

What did you make of last year’s hosting of the event at the O2 Arena?

I think it was one of the best season-ending championships for the first time holding of the event ever. I think Chris Kermode and the team did an excellent job with the LTA and everybody involved. If you are talking about minor teething problems I remember playing the event in two years in Hanover and it was nice but nothing in comparison to how the World Tour Finals is run in The O2.

It is a fantastic arena – they have a very nice area for the spectators, there is the Underground, they have got venues for them to eat and they have got a great stadium so what more can you have? It is one of the biggest venues in the world. I think in London it is only going to get bigger and bigger every year to have the top eight in the world here, especially with the players we have at the moment. We have a British player in Murray, having Federer and Nadal, two of the greatest players to have played the game, and the young guns coming through as well so it is going to be a tremendous event, I think it is has been run sensationally well.

Ok, cheers Greg, and we look forward to seeing you down at the O2.

No problem.

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