Usual 8 players square off at ATP tour finals

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Six of this year’s players qualified last year as well, although Roddick had to sit out with an injury.

“It’s a tough thing to do, not that many players have been able to break through and make it for the first time,” Murray said. “It shows you’ve had a good year.”

Last year’s champion Nikolay Davydenko missed out this year after struggling with injuries and falling to No. 22 in the rankings. The 2009 runner-up Juan Martin Del Potro has missed most of the year after wrist surgery.

The tournament begins with a round-robin group stage, meaning every player is guaranteed three matches. Murray plays Soderling in the first match Sunday, before Federer takes on Ferrer. The other group starts play Monday.

Federer is looking for his fifth title in the event, and said he’s hoping to end the year on a high.

“I feel like I’ve got one more tournament left in me,” Federer said. “My body is not screaming for a vacation quite yet. … This is a huge tournament for me. It’s a goal for the entire season, trying to make it here. And once you make it here, trying to beat the fellow top-10 players, which is always fun to play against and face off at the end of the season. And you hope you can save the best for last.”

There’s also the hope that by this time next year, there may be some more new faces at the tournament. “I’m excited too to see what’s coming up next,” Federer said.

Notes: Nadal has won the ATP tour’s Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the first time, ending Federer’s streak of six in a row. Nadal earned the award, which is voted on by tour players, after winning three Grand Slam tournaments in 2010.

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