Part I was a good enough intro, so I’ll just jump right into it:
Rafael Nadal: Ignoring everything he’s done this year (hard to do, I know), the reason I believe that Nadal will, in fact, win his first year end title is because he said he wants to a few months ago. After winning the French Open, Nadal said he was looking towards the US Open. He completely skipped over his beloved Wimbledon, that he won anyway, to focus on the one major he hadn’t won. What happened next? He won the US Open. After the US Open he said he was setting his sights on the WTF. So judging by his history, bum shoulder or not, he’s going to come out gun’s blazing.
Roger Federer:For a 16-time slam champ, the guy isn’t playing half bad. He hasn’t lost before the semifinals since Wimbledon, and has failed to reach the finals only twice, both times squandering match points. It’s not far-fetched to think he’ll continue his good play and choke every couple of matches, but at the same time, it’s Federer. He’s been gaining momentum for a reason, he wants to reclaim the number one ranking. And even though people don’t seem to value the WTF the way they should, it’s the fifth biggest tournament in tennis and Federer is burning to reclaim his throne. He’s won it four times before and narrowly lost to Davydenko in the semis last year. Except some magic from the Swiss.
Novak Djokovic:The guy finally put himself back in the mix by reaching the US Open final and has been playing solid tennis since. Solid, but not spectacular. I think it’s fair to say the guy thinks about Davis Cup 95% of the time, on and off the court. He still managed to defend his Beijing title and his only losses before Paris came to Federer. Winning this title would send a huge message to his rivals, the tennis world, and particularly France. Surely the French would be shaking in their boots if they have to face not only Djokovic in Serbia, but the guy who just won a tournament that features only the top eight players in the world.
Robin Soderling: The French-Open-Upset-Specialist just won his first Masters title in Paris on a very similar surface. He made the semifinals last year losing to Del Potro in a third set tiebreaker and he’s fully capable of going one further this year. Like Djokovic, this would be a great opportunity for Soderling to make a big statement to his rivals, the tennis world, and France. Wait, no, he already made his statements to France…
Andy Murray:Murray barely missed the semifinals last year and he’s going to want to right the ship this time around. This tournament could actually be the best thing to happen to Murray, should he win. Winning Wimbledon is still a tall task due to Nadal and Murray’s inclination to get tight in slams. But the WTF is definitely a tournament Murray is fully capable of winning due to the best-of-3 set format and maybe a big win in London will make the Brits relax a little towards Murray. Maybe.
Tomas Berdych: I have always loved Berdych’s game. I still remember when he won Paris, back in 2005 (this guy is ancient), and like the rest of the tennis world, I was hoping it would be the start of great things. But it wasn’t. He finally got his act together by reaching the French Open semifinal and Wimbledon final. But his season has almost been bookended by two matches two Federer. In Miami, he saved match points to win, and went on to have a great summer. Then he blew a 5-2 lead in the third in Montreal and hasn’t been the same since. Although he doesn’t have the greatest record against his group, he does have wins over all of them and he is formidable on his day. He knows he has nothing to lose and if he ever wanted to fulfill even half of his potential, winning this title wouldn’t be a bad start. Maybe if he gets to the semis and beats Federer again he’ll start another run of great success.
David Ferrer:It seems like since his loss at the US Open, Ferrer has been working especially hard to redeem himself, and he’s done a great job. Really, who thought this guy even had a shot at qualifying before the US Open? But he’s in and he’s playing some mean ball. He has a good record against everyone in his group except Federer, but Federer has been giving out overdue wins lately so don’t be surprised to see Ferrer get a W. He’s also probably the least favorite from anyone’s perspective, including his own, and he’s done well at the year end championships before. This is his last tournament, too, so he can go all out with the luxury of a few weeks of rest before playing competitive tennis again.
Andy Roddick:He almost didn’t make it, but thank the tennis Gods he did. A-Rod is playing decent tennis having recovered from an almost comical succession of injuries that have plagued him since the clay season. Hopefully his injury woes are over and he can put up a good display in London. He missed out last year due to injury and his last two losses at Wimbledon have been absolute heart breakers. Like Murray, this could be a great tournament for Roddick to re-establish himself and boost his confidence. I don’t think there’s a single fan out there who would mind seeing Roddick win a much-deserved big title. (I know he won Miami, but this would be even bigger and he might even have to beat Federer to do it).
So there you go, my speculative reasons for why each guy should be gunning for the big win. I still believe Nadal will win but should the unexpected happen, at least we know how (sorta).
Rough Predictions: Nadal 2-1, Djokovic 2-1, Roddick 2-1, Berdych 0-3. Federer 1-2, Murray 3-0, Soderling 2-1, Ferrer 1-2. Nadal def. Soderling, Djokovic def. Murray. Nadal def. Djokovic.
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