Federer, Nadal provide heat at Masters Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/T/Tennisgeneric.jpg' class='caption'> Lingering injuries and even a pregnancy have forced some of the Tennis Masters Cup's biggest drawcards out of the season-ending championship.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Lingering injuries and even a pregnancy have forced some of the Tennis Masters Cup's biggest drawcards out of the season-ending championship. But top-seeded Roger Federer and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal still headline the field, meaning the end result will probably be the same. Banners bearing the likenesses of Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick flutter from light poles near the new 15,000-seat Qi Zhong Stadium. Their pictures are here the players are not. While worthy replacements have been arranged for the eight-man tournament, Federer and Nadal are expected to face each other on court to decide the US$4.45 million ATP circuit finale. Both players are returning to action after recovering from injuries. Match-winning record Federer is seeking his third consecutive Tennis Masters Cup crown and a chance to tie John McEnroe's match-winning percentage record (.965) in a calendar year, marking the best of the men's professional-era. But the Swiss right-hander was on crutches just three weeks ago after damaging ankle ligaments during a practice session. "A few weeks ago I was not sure how quickly my ankle would recover, but now I am on the court and playing again,'' Federer said earlier this month. He was wearing an ankle brace in practice on Thursday, but it didn't appear to affect his movement. The 19-year-old Nadal has been hampered by tendonitis, which forced him to sit out the last two weeks of the regular season. Stars absent Roddick cited back pain when he withdrew from the Shanghai event. The absence of Safin was expected. The Russian has been hampered with a knee injury for most of the year. Hewitt, who won the Masters Cup the last time it was held in Shanghai in 2002, decided to stay home this time because his wife is expecting to give birth to their first child within two weeks. When Roddick pulled out, David Nalbandian became the third Argentinean in the lineup alongside compatriots Gaston Gaudio and Guillermo Coria. Gaudio got Hewitt's berth. Nalbandian is one of only three players, along with Federer and Hewitt, to have reached the quarterfinals or better in three Grand Slam tournaments in 2005. Federer, Nalbandian and Coria are in the Red Group along with Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. Nadal leads the Gold Group, which also contains Gaudio, Nicolay Davydenko of Russia and the grand old man of tennis, 35-year-old American Andre Agassi. (AP)

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  • Tennis
  • Roger Federer
  • Rafael Nadal

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