ATP Finals Preview: Will Novak Djokovic Stay Hot And Defend His 2012 London Title?
by Sean Randall | November 3rd, 2013, 7:34 pm
  • 57 Comments

The end of the 2013 season begins tomorrow with the ATP Finals in London. The tournament once again features the Top 8 players in the world (minus the injured Andy Murray) competing for 1,500 important ranking points and a purse of close to $2 million dollars. Does that have your attention? It should because it certainly has the players’.

Leading the way are the big three – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – plus Juan Martin Del Potro, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet and newbie Stan Wawrinka.

The Great Eight were divided into two groups which turned out far from fair and balanced. In Group A it’s Rafa, Ferrer, Berdych and Stan while Group B is loaded with Novak, Delpo and Roger.

With all the events this time of year, one has to consider motivation and fatigue with evaluating players. Nadal, who’s played a lot of tennis this season, might be wearing out as he often does this time of year. Del Potro’s also played a lot.

At stake for Novak isn’t just defending his 2012 title, but also the No. 1 ranking. It’s a longshot but he’ll have to win the title and hope Rafa doesn’t win two matches. So how will all of this unfold? Here’s my breakdown of the tournament:

GROUP A: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka
Rafael Nadal: He’s the obvious pick in this group but let’s remember: Rafa’s never won this title, never done well this time in the season and since the US Open didn’t win any of the three events he entered. But he’s Rafa so we’ll get the best of whatever he has left after a long season. And we know he’s targeted this event, one of the few missing from his glorious resume. Thankfully for Nadal, he’s got a great draw but given the circumstances, he could just as easily lose all three than win all three. My guess is he’ll land somewhere in between and hope the math works in his favor.

David Ferrer: After a miserable summer, surprisingly it’s the indoor season that’s ignited a spark in the 31-year-old, and it comes at just the right time. David enters London off three straight finals including Paris where today he gave Djokovic a real tussle. Also, he matches up well with Berdych and Wawrinka and he just beat Rafa yesterday. So I give him a real shot here not just to make the last four but to win the group. To do it outright he’ll have to beat Rafa again on Tuesday.

Tomas Berdych: Mr. Disappointment should do well at an event like this. it’s indoors, quick surface, great draw. But more often than not he lets down, especially against the higher ranked guys. And really of late he’s shown nothing to suggest that won’t happen again – heck, he hasn’t beaten a Top 10er since Cincinnati. So while Tomas is always dangerous, I just don’t get the feeling he’s in it to win it here.

Stan Wawrinka: The lone debutante in the field will get his first taste of what it’s like at the Big Boys’ Table. Stan’s in a group in which he can do some damage – all winnable matches – but I just wonder if he has that belief. With all the pomp and gala of the event, this might be too big of an occasion for Stan to handle in his first time out. But he does open with Tomas who he has beaten five of the last six times so it could be a good start.

Predicted order of finish: Ferrer, Nadal, Berdych, Wawrinka

GROUP B: Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet
Novak Djokovic: If I had to bet on one guy to make it to the semis, my money would be on Novak. Since the Open loss to Rafa he’s been the best player on the planet winning 17 straight and collecting three titles including Paris today. And he’s also healthy, he’s the defending champion and he’s got the motivation of the No. 1 ranking. Check, check and check. It’s a tough group, yes, but he’s already beaten his three counterparts during this recent run.

Juan Martin Del Potro: Second to Djokovic this fall, he’s the guy you just don’t want to play, especially in a controlled indoor environment. With his early loss Friday in Paris and a Monday match against Gasquet, I think he also should be fresh for his two big clashes with Djokovic and Federer. And he gets hot, watch out. The tournament is best-of-3 format (even the finals) and when he’s on his mark it can be over quick.

Roger Federer: Roger restored some hope in recent weeks with his Basel final and semifinal effort against Novak yesterday, so that’s good news. The bad news, however, is he’s stuck in the proverbial “Group of Death” as opposed to Rafa’s “Group of Dearth”. I think he’ll overwhelm Gasquet, but otherwise it will be tough to get a win. But as a six-time champion at the event, he’ll make it competitive at least.

Richard Gasquet: Unfortunately for the Frenchman, I just don’t see where the wins will come from. Gasquet’s playing well and after a good season he deserves the spot (with an assist to Murray), but in this group maybe he can beat Federer, maybe a set from Delpo, that’s it. Had he ended up in Group A he’d have a chance, just not here. That said, the pressure is off and with his talent, maybe he can pull the big surprise.

Predicted order of finish: Djokovic, Del Potro, Federer, Gasquet

Semifinals: Djokovic d Nadal, Del Potro d Ferrer
Final: Djokovic d Del Potro

The key matches: Nadal v Ferrer (will likely decide the Group A winner), Nadal v Berdych (could decide Group A second place), Federer v Delpo (will likely decide Group B second place).

In the end, I just think Djokovic is playing too well not to win. Del Potro’s also been the hot man while I’m just not sold on Nadal this time of year winning indoors. But like Federer, he also could surprise as could someone like Ferrer who seems to have returned to form.

As for Monday, I like Delpo over Gasquet and Tomas in three to beat Stan.

Matches begin tomorrow and Tennis Channel has live coverage until Thursday when ESPN2 takes over.


Also Check Out:
Marquee Fall Schedules: Where Will Federer, Djokovic And Murray Be Playing
Federer Says It’s “Possible” That He Can Finish No. 1; Mathematically Yes, Realistically No
Those Damn Knees! Rafael Nadal Has Withdrawn From The London Olympics
Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Paris, London ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic Qualifies For ATP London Finals

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57 Comments for ATP Finals Preview: Will Novak Djokovic Stay Hot And Defend His 2012 London Title?

qwerty Says:

im a big nole fan, but i don’t think he’ll be capable of defending his title. even at the start of the march with ferrer, he was dead tired. federer and delpo will propably took him out, or even nadal in semis.


Steve 27 Says:

What a surprise!. Dan “jump on the bandwagon” again.
But no this time, Is either or Rafa (I believe he wantgs this title badly) or Del Potro. you heard it first!


WTF Says:

Djokovic has to be favorite. He likes these conditions, Rafa doesn’t. I think Rafa’s aim is to win two matches.


Steve 27 Says:

No, he aim is to defeat the Joker and win the title.


metan Says:

Sean . Agree with you. About draw , I think it is not balance. It would be nice if Delpo or Roger is in Rafa side. But what we can do???


metan Says:

WTF
I agree with you that Nole is favourite. But it doesn’t mean that Rafa only play for the YE. I guess you were wrong. He wanted the title too as per Sean said and all his fans agree with that. However, it takes one step at the time. Secured his YE no one first and then focus on winning the title.

VAMOS Rafa wish you millions luck get the YE no one so I can wear my T-shirt. RAFA #1. What a fabulous Year.!


Okiegal Says:

I think the only hope of anyone beating Novak will be meeting a tired Novak. He is playing lights out….David gave him a run…..but couldn’t get it done. Proud of Ferrer and his efforts. Love the guy….I guess I am partial to the Spaniards!!!

Vamos Rafa and good luck Tuesday!!


Eric Says:

It’s not like Rafa forgets how to play when he’s indoors. He has reached the finals here before (and made a streaking Roger work for it). I bet he will drop a couple of sets, but he should come through that group 2-1 or even 3-0. (Anyone see him losing to Ferrer twice in a week? And I doubt both Tomas and Stan will outplay him for two sets.)

The other spot is totally up for grabs. Ferrer is a slight favorite, but nothing’s guaranteed.

The other group is so much more talented it’s comical. I hope Gasquet doesn’t fold and end up 0-3 — otherwise we might see a very annoying 3-way tie between the others, like a couple of years ago with Roger and Andy’s group.

Djokovic is the obvious pick to win the group. He might go 2-1 or 3-0. If Federer can get it done against Delpo again, I’d pick him for the second slot. (I guess it is also possible in theory for him to beat Novak…we’ll see.)


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Eric great post,right its not like Rafa forgot how to play indoors,he made the final in Beijing,the semis in both Shanghai and Paris,and hes made the finals of the WTFs in 2010,he actually beat Novak that year too,its just not his best surface is all,many said he would never win wimbledon and he did,a HC GS and he he won the AO,he would never win the USO and he did,after that it was said he would never win another HC GS again and he did,so he keeps proving people wrong,so i hope he can also prove people wrong by winning the WTFs at some point,hopefully this year he he?


Giles Says:

http://alturl.com/bajwb
Good luck Champ!
V A M O S!!


SmashingAces Says:

Unfortunately I think Nole has this, would love to see either Rafa, Del Potro take it or even a win for Feds on his record 12th year in a row!?!

Anyway, welcome to London!!


Bad Knee Rules Says:

———-
Unfortunately I think Nole has this, would love to see either Rafa, Del Potro take it or even a win for Feds on his record 12th year in a row!?!
———-

Unfortunately for who?


Tootie Says:

I’m pulling for Nole. I do wish, however, he would realize that the emptiness he feels inside is because he has not come to know Jesus personally (be born again). All he has to do is ask Him into his heart. I pray he does.


Patson Says:

Tootie, you messing with us with this Jesus thing?

Nole all the way ;-)

On the other hand, Fed lost in 3 set in Basel against Delpo and won the next encounter in 3. Fed lost in 3 against Nole in Paris. Law of averages suggests Fed is bound to beat Nole. I just hope it’s not in London.


hawkeye Says:

RT @scambers73: “Beautiful day in London for day one of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Just a shame it’s indoors!”

Shame indeed.


skeezer Says:

Rafa will be #1 at years end. His draw is ridiculously easy in comparison. Shoo in. There is no drama to be talked about here.


Giles Says:

Rafa wins Comeback Player of the Year. Hope this is the first of many more awards for King Rafa!
Vamos Champ!


hawkeye Says:

Well, most sportsmanship is…. “reserved”.


Giles Says:

“Rigged”!!!


hawkeye Says:

skeezer Says:
Rafa will be #1 at years end. His draw is ridiculously easy in comparison. Shoo in. There is no drama to be talked about here.

Yeah, it really had nothing to do with all of those Masters and majors he won this year all in basically just seven months. MAGIC!!!

Hilarious!


skeezer Says:

Sorry guys(girls?), apparently your 2 votes doesn’t get Mr. Humble the Sportsmenship award. You would think being oh so apparently “Humble” he should have gotten numerous spsotsmenship awards, no?

Humble doesn’t get you best sportsmen of the year, nor gets you to 27 ATP Awards either. Just be happy he got #1 YE.

Despite Fed being old and hardly any titles, he keeps making records. Pretty soon they will need a “Page 2″ on the wiki site. :)

Allez Fed!


hawkeye Says:

The guy who “counts the votes” is the same guy who rigged 13 straight AO, Wimby and USO draws always putting Nole in his hald. Coincidentally ended when Nole came out of his (egg) shell.

MAGIC.


hawkeye Says:

^^^^ half.

Golden Era typos.


James Says:

Not that I give a damn about these awards but since we’re talking it, RNadal has won some too it seems:

“As winner of Comeback Player of the Year, Nadal becomes the first to clinch awards in all the player voted categories. The 27-year- old Spaniard won Newcomer in 2003, Most Improved in 2005 and Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship in 2010. He was also awarded as the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian in 2011 and can claim ATP World Tour No. 1
presented by Emirates for a third time (2008, 2010) this week in London.”

http://www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com/en/news-and-media/tennis/atp-world-tour-awards-winners


scineram Says:

What’s with this disgustingly slow bouncy court? Desperate to fill Rafael’s resume much?


hawkeye Says:

Moët & Chandon are not pleased.

You’re fired.


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Hope it does help Rafa complete his resume.


madmax Says:

hawkeye Says:
Well, most sportsmanship is…. “reserved”.

November 4th, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hawkeye! Dont you get it!

Federer voted for BY HIS PEERS. BY HIS PEERS. BY HIS PEERS. GET IT YET?


madmax Says:

skeezer Says:
Sorry guys(girls?), apparently your 2 votes doesn’t get Mr. Humble the Sportsmenship award. You would think being oh so apparently “Humble” he should have gotten numerous spsotsmenship awards, no?

Humble doesn’t get you best sportsmen of the year, nor gets you to 27 ATP Awards either. Just be happy he got #1 YE.

Despite Fed being old and hardly any titles, he keeps making records. Pretty soon they will need a “Page 2″ on the wiki site. :)

Allez Fed!

November 4th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Skeezer, I hear you!


James Says:

They were disappointed not to see Rafa on Saturday in London.

“The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals were launched on Saturday night with a gala dinner at London’s Natural History Museum. Around a dozen competitors attended, mingling with fans and sponsors in the shadow of Dippy, the 26-metre diplodocus that bestrides the Centre Hall.

Yet there were also some glaring absentees, thanks to the daft back-to-back scheduling of Paris and London. The diners were hugely disappointed to miss the new world No1 Rafael Nadal, whose all-conquering return from injury has flabbergasted everyone. The man has become a phenomenon, evoking the sort of awed fascination often seen in this hall.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/10424068/ATP-World-Tour-Finals-2013-favourable-draw-sets-Rafael-Nadal-up-for-a-final-flourish-in-comeback-season.html


madmax Says:

favourable draw is all I can see James, tho hawkeye will say, “It doesn’t matter. It’s only an exho!”


James Says:

@madmax,

“The diners were hugely disappointed to miss the new world No1 Rafael Nadal, whose all-conquering return from injury has flabbergasted everyone. The man has become a phenomenon, evoking the sort of awed fascination often seen in this hall.”


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Theres a great contest going on between Delpo and Gasquet,very tight opening set,rather get the feeling that Richie needs to win the 1st set to be in with a chance,just as i speak he takes the 1st set.


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Beautiful set of tennis,if Gasquet wins this match,i can see the group getting very interesting.


Giles Says:

“Pretty soon they will need a “page 2″ on the new wiki site”.
Hmmm, as long as we don’t have to stomach 2000 lines on this site from a certain windbag, I can live with that!!
VAMOS RAFA!!!


madmax Says:

North Greenwich will be transformed into a miniature Swiss canton on Tuesday evening, when Roger Federer makes his entry to a tournament he has won six times. He is always the best-supported player at the O₂ Arena, even when drawn against Andy Murray last year. But is he slowing down?

That was the suggestion madeon Monday by Novak Djokovic, Federer’s opponent. Was it a knowing challenge to the authority of the great man?

Probably not, for Djokovic was simply offering his opinion on the question, “What has changed in Roger’s game this year?” But given the touchiness of Federer’s legion of fans, it was still a bold thing to say.
**************************************************

This is a bit naughty from the telegraph. I will defend Novak here. These were not his words and yet, once again, by the media, they are twisted against Roger.

Hey James! Thanks for the info! Unfortunately for Rafa:

“North Greenwich will be transformed into a miniature Swiss canton on Tuesday evening, when Roger Federer makes his entry to a tournament he has won six times. He is always the best-supported player at the O₂ Arena, even when drawn against Andy Murray last year”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/rogerfederer/10426282/ATP-World-Tour-Finals-Roger-Federer-tries-to-silence-critics-as-he-faces-Novak-Djokovic.html

Nothing you can do about James. Federer is the most popular guy in tennis, much loved by the British public (save a few here, knowing who they are), but we don’t worry about that, we just look wutter, phenomenal awesome fascination at the way in which he is loved by the public, his peers, what a guy!

Wow! James! hawkeye! How awesome to be loved so much by the “strangers” around the world.


madmax Says:

apologies James, I got excited, “with utter” it should have read! whoops! (w’utter), phenomenal awesome fascination at the way in which he is loved by the public, his peers, what a guy!


madmax Says:

Giles Says:
“Pretty soon they will need a “page 2″ on the new wiki site”.
Hmmm, as long as we don’t have to stomach 2000 lines on this site from a certain windbag, I can live with that!!
VAMOS RAFA!!!

November 4th, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Giles,

Why are you calling yourself a windbag? Your humour gets me every time! Loving it Giles! You should join a Macdonalds Advert! “Yeah! Am Loving it!”


metan Says:

Fun time. Wow!

Wawa and Delpo is the winner. Congrats for first round win to both players and their fans. WTF COOOOL!


Hawkeye Says:

Ooooooooohhhhhh! His peers!

Why didn’t you say so. That explains everything.

By definition, Rafa the GOAT has no peers.

Humb1e.


James Says:

whatever makes you happy, @madmax. Good to know you care that much about your favorite tennis player.

He’s gotten old and slow, once a clear favorite in most tournaments he entered, the Swiss is now a huge underdog vs the likes of Novak Djokovic. I hope he pulls of an upset over the red hot Serb.


I Love Tennis Says:

As a tennis fan first, then a Federer fan, win or lose i will be happy just watching him play. At the age of 32, not so sure if the likes of Nadal and Djokovic will be playing WTF in the future .. ( if still playing, will they qualify? )


Giles Says:

^^^ Nobody can foretell the future, worry about the here and now.
Vamos Rafa!


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Federer is indeed the most popular tennis player no doubt about that,but Rafas popular too,no harm his fans saying so either,both are popular,both have great followings.cant we just leave it at that,all a bit tit for tat sometimes,my dads bigger than your dad etc.


Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

I Love Tennis,tennis is more a case of whats happening in the here and now,the past is history,and the futures a mystery,Rafa and Novak have been ranked in the top 10 for almost a decade now,Rafas won at least 1 GS every year now for almost a decade,whether they will still be ranked in the top 8 and still playing age 32 remains to be seen,its all for the future and bears no relevance at this moment in time.


Nirmal Kumar Says:

It has to be either Nadal or Novak to win the title. Novak is playing tennis of highest caliber, though he has not started his matches well. With Rafa, if he plays to his potential, except Novak I doubt anyone else has a chance with him. But it’s been an emotionally draining year for him with unbelievable success. If he gets the required wins to end the No 1, not sure how much energy would be left for him to fight for the title.

Nadal is smart enough to understand that WTF title is going to decide his legacy. It’s only the slams. He might prefer to focus on AO once he grabs the No 1.


hawkeye Says:

Only the TMF faithful consider WTF as part of legacy.

I was a massive Sampras (was GOAT) fan but honestly have NO idea how many WTF (or equivalent) he won.

It’s the low season between USO and AO. Other than extreme tennis fans (like those that take the time to post on tennis forums), no one cares. Even the two post USO Masters 1000 don’t get any real respect.

Sure look at the ATP rules. Players have to play four 500 level tournaments and they even have to specify that one must be after the USO, otherwise no one would bother.

It’s a glorified exho. Get over it already.

Hilarious.


Sirius Says:

^U were no one’s fan. Ur blind rafa love and hatred to his rivals is shown in ur posts. Its a shame that a site so good has to hold all of ur rubbish posts and its the last time im responding to one of ur rubbish posts


Nirmal Kumar Says:

Nadal is smart enough to understand that WTF title is going to decide his legacy

It should be read as “Nadal is smart enough to understand that WTF title is NOT going to decide his legacy”.


hawkeye Says:

NK, gotcha. Makes more sense now.

Siriusly, you cannot be SERIOUS!!!

I have the utmost respect for Fed (just not the “Tea Party” portion of his fans). I think at 32, Fed will beat Nole tonight in two sets.


hawkeye Says:

Wasn’t aware sportsmanship was exemplified by saying no one can beat me when I’m playing well except on clay!!!

Shank-you. Shank-you very much.


hawkeye Says:

Rafa wins his friendly with Ferru!!!

P-minus 110.


madmax Says:

James Says:
whatever makes you happy, @madmax. Good to know you care that much about your favorite tennis player.

He’s gotten old and slow, once a clear favorite in most tournaments he entered, the Swiss is now a huge underdog vs the likes of Novak Djokovic. I hope he pulls of an upset over the red hot Serb.

November 4th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

James, I always wish Roger the very best, I continue to support the Goat, I enjoy watching him play and have had the absolute pleasure to do so, live, 5 times. What an honour and I can tell you, the way he plays live is so much better than on TV. It’s ridiculous to see the shots he plays off the ground.

At 32, well aware of his shortfalls, but so admire his spirit and desire to keep playing and just think, he is amazing. I reall do.

hawkeye, if you think this is an exho (weird person that you are),then surely you have better things to do with your life than to watch it – ?


Hawkeye Says:

TMF let me down tonight.

Since the game is on his racquet, he didn’t play well twice in a row now. Maybe there was some krypto-clay on SuperGOAT’s shoes.

Oh well, I’m sure he will “play well” (read win) vs Reeeshard SHBH Gasquet.


Raja Says:

So it is Djoker vs Nadal final this year. Thank God Roger made it to the last 4 which saw a bit of upward curve in his not-so-great year of tennis.

Hoping to see the Djoker win….again

Top story: Federer, Nadal Breeze In Basel; Murray, Ferrer Advance In Valencia
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Rankings
ATP - Oct 20 WTA - Oct 20
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Marin Cilic8 Ana Ivanovic
9 Milos Raonic9 Caroline Wozniacki
10 Andy Murray10 Angelique Kerber
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