|Roger Federer at the Western Southern Open.|
With a straight set victory in Sunday's final over mammoth Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer won the ATP 1000 Parisbas Masters Series event, securing his biggest tournament win of the year.
Last week, Federer ended a nearly 10-month title drought by prevailing in an ATP 500 event held in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland.
With only three tournament victories in 2011 and no Grand Slam championships, this is arguably Roger's worst year since his reign at the top of professional tennis began eight years ago. In light of his lackluster season, it would be easy to discount his chances at next week's Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals in London. Federer's late season surge, however, seems to be coming just in time as he prepares to compete next week against seven other top players in the world.
Any of the seven players participating next week can beat Federer, but only the top three players provide consistently strong opposition to him. It happens, thought, that the three men ranked higher than Federer in the ATP rankings have not been completely healthy of late.
Among the top three - Serbia's Novak Djokovic withdrew from his final match this week in Paris, citing a serious shoulder injury that continues to plague him, and Andy Murray of Great Britain has been bothered off and on by a minor hamstring pull. Rafael Nadal will return from a several week hiatus to heal various niggling late season injuries, and while he should be rested, his absence from other recent indoor tournaments may leave him a little rusty.
Federer manages his play, his body, and his tour schedule brilliantly, and even as we reach the end of another gruelingly long tennis season, the thirty year-old continues to be in excellent physical condition. With a healthy Fed, and every aspect of his game from serve to net looking crisp and sharp in the last few weeks, my money is on the Swiss master to successfully defend his ATP Tour Finals title in London next week.