The big question this upcoming week in London is, is anyone capable of denying Novak Djokovic a fourth straight ATP Finals title? My short answer is: No!
Right now Djokovic is playing just too good. He’s won his last 22 matches and 37 straight indoors (that’s right!). He’s too motivated and he’s won the London ATP Finals title the last three years. That’s 15 straight match wins at the event which is pretty good. But then when you remember these are all wins over TOP 10 PLAYERS and that streak becomes WOW!
So no, I don’t see anyone taking the title away from him this year, not in his form. I do think he’ll be tested along the way.
First, the groups:
Things came out pretty balanced. I would have liked to have seen Djokovic and Federer in separate groups since they are the two favorites, but it’s very reasonable.
Now for the breakdowns and a few picks, pans and predictions:
Obviously very top heavy with the only two former champions in the field those two being the tournament favorites Djokovic and Federer. With Nishikori’s injury issues the last month, he’s in trouble. Berdych can maybe create some trouble, otherwise it’s going to end up Djokovic followed by Federer. Bet against that at your peril.
Djokovic (3-0): Maybe Berdych and/or Roger can steal a set, that’s about it. Both of those guys have given Novak some problems of late. And maybe he lets down on Thursday having already clinched a semi. Still, even though it’s the tougher group, he’s just in too good form right now.
Federer (2-1): There’s some danger with Berdych and like I said I think he can give Novak some issues. A win over Novak wouldn’t shock me, however a straight win would. That said, I think every match will be a dogfight, even against Nishikori.
Berdych (1-2): Indoors is his best surface, so he should feel go about himself. That is, or was, until he saw what group he’s in. Too bad, Tomas. I think he’ll beat Nishikori and give Djokovic and Federer both some hell, but as usual he’ll come up just short in the end.
Nishikori (0-3): With his lack of play confidence plus injuries, it’s going to be a tough week for him which is too bad. If he can get and stay healthy he should be fun to watch.
Swing match: Federer v Berdych
Group winner: Novak Djokovic
Group runner-up: Roger Federer
While Stan Smith has two crystal clear favorites, the Nastase group is wide open with zero former champions. I could see anyone, even Ferrer, getting through. Ferrer’s been playing surprisingly well this fall, so he won’t be the pushover some think he’ll be. The question is, with the Davis Cup final on the horizon, how much energy will Murray commit to the event? 100%? 80%? To me, I don’t think he’ll wear himself out pushing it in London. At least that’s what I’m betting on here.
Stan Wawrinka (2-1): If he’s on he’ll get through. With Stan, though, it’s hard to know. He’s vastly improved indoors and on hardcourts, but consistency remains an issue. As such, he’s the real wildcard of the event.
Andy Murray (2-1): I just think he’s too focused on Davis Cup to leave a major mark here. And he’s struggled at the event in recent years (2-5 the last 3 years). That said, he’s been playing too well of late to ignore, so he sneaks in.
Rafael Nadal (1-2): A lot depends on Murray here. If he beats Murray or if the Scot goes in the tank he’ll get in.
David Ferrer (1-2): Credit for making it back and playing some great tennis down the stretch. However, since none of his matches will be on his racquet in this group, he’ll need a lot of help to advance. That said, the three in his group could certainly oblige.
Swing match: Murray v Nadal
Group winner: Stan Wawrinka
Group runner-up: Andy Murray
Semifinals: Djokovic d Murray, Federer d Wawrinka
Federer: Djokovic d Federer 7-6, 7-5
Again, Djokovic is the big favorite here with Federer being the only other guy I could see winning. For tennis’s sake, I do hope Nadal can make an impression and he and his camp have to be thrilled about the group he’s in. And if Stan’s off and Murray’s saving himself for Davis Cup, then Rafa will be playing next weekend.
Tomorrow, we’ll have Novak and Kei then Roger and Tomas. You have to like Novak and Roger, but Berdych, as I said could really set the tone with an upset.
On Monday, we’ll see where Murray’s interest lies when he plays Ferrer. Then the best of the early wave of round robin matches with Nadal and Wawrinka. In that one we’ll see where Wawrinka is at.
In addition to Novak trying to end one of his best seasons in style, Murray is trying to something he’s never done, and that is finish No. 2. But can he fend off Federer?
Tennis Channel has live coverage starting Sunday. ESPN2 takes over I believe on Thursday.
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