And after six days of uninspiring round robin play, we’ve cut the field of eight in half. No shock that the top two, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, are in the mix but a bit of a surprise to see Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori still on the final weekend.
Warwinka stumbled and bumbled toward the event losing four of five matches leading up, while Nishikori had to beat and did beat home favorite Andy Murray in his Sunday opener. So credit to both guys, though Saturday they’ll have their work cut out for them against two very, very hot and primed eager champions who ripped through the first week without dropping a set.
The standard bearer, Federer has won this event six times and after humiliating Murray on Wednesday, has to be pleased about where his game is at.
As good as Roger may feeling, Djokovic probably feels even better. Through three matches, the 2-time defending champion who just clinched No. 1 lost just nine total games. And he’s won 30 straight matches indoors including 13 straight at the ATP Finals.
So the semifinals are set, it’s Djokovic-Nishikori and Federer-Warwinka.
Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori
Kei’s certainly playing well but I just don’t see how he stops Djokovic here. Not with the way Novak’s been playing the last month or so. Djokovic’s post-baby Paris domination has continued this week, and yesterday he blew out Tomas Berdych.
Ok, the win over Berdych was to be expected, as was the Cilic victory, but he crushed Stan and two weeks ago didn’t lose a set in Paris. So no matter how you slice, he’s the best player on the planet right now.
Nishikori won’t be scared, though. He impressively overwhelmed Murray last Sunday, then lost to Federer but managed to rebound in three against Ferrer in a tricky one.
And Kei has beaten Novak twice. Of course at this past US Open in a stunner and also three years ago indoors in Basel when Novak’s shoulder flared up.
“It’s obvious that he’s experiencing the best season of his life,” Djokovic said. “He’s top 5 of the world. He’s playing some great tennis. He’s one of the quickest players around. Deservedly he’s in semifinals only on his debut. I expect a tougher match than it was in Paris, that’s for sure. But, again, the conditions indoor and outdoor, where I lost to him in US Open, are quite different. I’m feeling pretty confident playing now, as well as he. So it’s going to be a good, high class tennis.”
And with the No. 1 ranking wrapped up, maybe Djokovic let’s down? I highly doubt that. The eye test points to Djokovic here, and that’s what I see.
The pick: Djokovic in two
Roger Federer v Stan Warwinka
A week for their massive Davis Cup duel against France, these two mates meet for a 17th time with Federer having won 14 of them. Stan broke a 12-match losing streak to Roger in Monte Carlo this year, then Roger got some revenge at Wimbledon.
“I’d love to play against Stan here in the semis,” Federer said on Thursday. “It would be historic for us to make it for a second consecutive year into the semis. If we play each other, it’s a good thing that one of us is going to go to the finals.”
First, credit to Stan for returning to the semifinals, though, let’s be honest he got a lot of help with Cilic who kind of gagged today and Berdych for barely showing up in London. But I don’t see how he takes out Federer here.
Roger hasn’t dropped a set and since the US Open loss to Cilic has really been pretty sharp, day-in and day-out. He’s had some bad patches but I don’t think Stan will be able to take advantage of those lulls indoors.
The pick: Federer in two
Unfortunately, the matches will not be live on ESPN2 Saturday, but they will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
SATURDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
DOUBLES / 12:00 PM
L KUBOT/R LINDSTEDT VS I DODIG/M MELO
SINGLES / 02:00 PM
DJOKOVIC VS NISHIKORI
DOUBLES / 06:00 PM
J BENNETEAU/ E ROGER-VASSELIN VS BRYAN/BRYAN
SINGLES / 08:00 PM
FEDERER VS WAWRINKA
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