While Federer sidestepped potential danger, avoiding both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and beating Kei Nishikori in the final, he took out five opponents with crisp, clinical and precise tennis. In keeping with tradition, he also bought pizza for the ballkids. (Every player should be so lucky as to have a tournament in his or her hometown.)
With the three players ahead of him limping toward the finish line, Federer has an excellent chance to end the year with a forceful statement.
In the final, she dusted Anabel Medina-Garrigues of Spain 6-3, 6-0 and then remarked: "I think I played an impeccable match today. Really I didn't do much wrong." We applaud her for A) using the word the "impeccable" and B) showing some much-needed self-confidence. One hopes it continues in 2012. She's too good a ballstriker to struggle as early and often as she does. And she's too sunny and personable not to play a more prominent role in the WTA miniseries.
Sadly, although this was only Djokovic's fourth loss of 2011, it severely hinders his candidacy for the "Best ATP Season Ever" honors. Anything short of running the table in Paris (at this writing he's still entered, but if he withdraws he'll forfeit some $1 million in bonus money from the year-end pool divvied among the top players) and the London year-ender, and the discussion is officially invalid.
The hard-core Djokovites (Djokovicians? Djokophiles? Djokomotives?) are claiming that three of his four defeats were injury-related and therefore are diluted. Most fans, though, won't make that distinction. Nor will history.
"The Czechs won thanks to Kvitova's superb play," Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev said. "She was just great." Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke beat Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-2 in the decisive doubles match to secure a 3-2 win.
Caroline Wozniacki immediately answered that she would like Sam Stosur's kick serve. Stosur and Li Na -- fine players, but not exactly twin studies in stability -- both answered that that they would like Maria Sharapova's mental toughness and focus.
Tellingly, two players declined to answer the question, saying, in so many words: