The two biggest names in tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, play a Group B doubleheader Sunday on the opening day of the ATP Finals tomorrow.
Five-time Finals champ Federer is first up at against JW Tsonga. It’s the second straight Sunday these two will clash, and if their recent meetings are any indication I think Federer wins.
Having the spotlight of playing in the opening match of the tournament against crowd favorite Federer might get to Tsonga early, giving Roger the potential to grab a quick lead. And that might be enough.
Roger has won six of nine meetings with JW, and this will be their seventh collision this year (Federer leads 4-2). Tsonga stunned Federer at Wimbledon and again in Canada, but Roger’s won five straight sets since.
Nadal follows against Mardy Fish who is appearing in his first ATP Finals. Rafa leads the American 7-1 including a win last month in Tokyo. Fish, who is playing by far the best tennis of his career this season, finally beat Nadal over the summer at Cincinnati.
Both 2010 finalists Federer and Nadal have to be pleased playing first. Getting early wins is crucial in the round-robin format, and it help with the back-end scheduling.
Tsonga can be a streaky guy but Fish is coming off a hamstring injury that could still be suspect.
“I feel a lot better physically than I did seven days ago, so that is encouraging for me,” said Fish said Friday. “It [groin strain] has gotten a tonne better since [the BNP Paribas Masters in] Paris. I would have liked to have played more matches coming in for sure, but I am trying to get in as many practise sessions as I can. I’m not taking anything for granted. The conditions here are a little different to those in The O2 bubble and at Queen’s Club though.”
And like Tsonga, I think the moment of playing his first Finals match against Nadal could impact Fish’s performance early.
Matches are live on Tennis Channel starting at 9am ET (earlier if you like doubles!).
SUNDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:15 pm
 M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) vs  R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
Not Before 6:15 PM
 M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs  M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  M Fish (USA)
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