From the 20th November, the top eight tennis players in the world will collide in the ATP World Tour Finals with the possibility of winning £1 million should they stay undefeated. Since moving to London from Shanghai, the tournament has been a huge success with Nikolay Davydenko the shock winner in 2009, followed by the irrepressible Roger Federer winning the tournament for a fifth time last year.
This year is the first time that the eight best players in the world will legitimately compete, adding to the anticipation and excitement for tennis fans. The groups were drawn for the round robin stage of the tournament and they will see Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Andy Murray and world number one, Novak Djokovic in Group A; while Mardy Fish, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer and Rafael Nadal will compete in Group B.
In what is one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history Federer and Nadal will once again battle for supremacy. With Federer on a twelve match winning streak but Nadal winning all three matches the two have played this year, this one is poised perfectly and could be a classic. Will the fact that the Spaniard has never won the tournament also play a role?
In addition to this match, the British crowd will be eager to see how Andy Murray competes against a seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic, who has won three of this year’s four Grand Slams and dominated everyone on the tour. He spectacularly defeated Murray in the Australian Open final at the beginning of the year.
However, with Murray winning eighteen of his last nineteen matches and winning titles in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai since the US Open, there will be an expectation from the home crowd that Murray will fight for all he is worth against the Serb. If Murray were to pull off the upset and even go on to win the tournament he would round off a successful year after reaching semi-finals in all of the Grand Slam tournaments. However, the Grand Slam championship he craves remains illusive.
Speaking about the format of the end of season tournament, Federer has stated that “everybody can beat everybody”. This seems like an obvious statement but, with players such as Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the tournament, the likelihood of a shock is significantly higher than in previous years.
Indeed, it was just five months ago that Federer was two sets up against Tsonga on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon, before Tsonga unceremoniously dumped the multiple-time champion out with a spectacular comeback. This was the first time ever Federer had lost from being two sets up in a match. Add this to the fact that Rafael Nadal has not played much tennis since the US Open; he could be a major shock exit in the first stage of the tournament if the explosive Frenchman Tsonga is at his spectacular best.
Similarly, Group A could see someone exceed expectations with David Ferrer holding close head-to-head records with both Djokovic and Murray, but I see former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych as the man to watch, as he holds a 3-1 winning record over the Scot and recently defeated him in Paris – ending is winning streak of matches and tournaments.
The 2011 ATP World Tour Finals are going to be harder to predict than ever before with question marks over the fitness of the two best players in the world, Djokovic and Nadal, as well as the unpredictability of players such as Tsonga and Berdych. With Andy Murray trying to capture his first end of year title, Federer trying to record a record sixth win in order to surpass Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras, and Novak Djokovic looking to put the finishing touches to an incredible year, this is going to be a tournament you do not want to miss.
My Tournament Prediction: Roger Federer
Opening Round Robin Matches:
20/11 – Federer vs. Tsonga
20/11 – Nadal vs. Fish
21/11 – Murray vs. Ferrer
21/11 – Djokovic vs. Berdych