A Look Ahead to the ATP Tour Finals: Who Will Reign Supreme?
November 12, 2016
If you had been asked back in June to tip a winner for this year’s ATP Tour Finals at the O2, your most likely response would have been ‘Novak Djokovic’. This would have been an unequivocal and authoritative answer too, particularly as the Serbian star had just won his first French Open, his 12th major overall and completed the coveted career slam.
Incredibly, the irrepressible Djokovic has also won the last four ATP titles at the O2, in a run dating back to 2012.
Sport is a strange and often cruel master, however, and as the year draws to a close the Serb is struggling to hold onto his number one ranking. After a serious of niggling injuries and early exits at Wimbledon and the Olympics (not to mention a comprehensive defeat to the enigmatic Stan Wawrinka in the final of the US Open), Djokovic appears to be struggling physically and has lost some of the belief that made him unbeatable for the best part of the last 18 months.
How is the ATP Tour Final Shaping Up?
This, along with the absence of the injured pair Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, has thrown the prestigious ATP Tour Finals wide open. Not since to 2009 has anyone other than Djokovic and Federer won the title (Nikolay Davydenko), while this is also the only occasion in the last 11 years that someone other than these two has triumphed.
So although Djokovic remains prominent in the ATP World Tour Finals odds, his scheduled at the Paris Open will tell us much about his chances of winning. In his absence, a resurgent Andy Murray has followed up his Wimbledon and Olympic Triumphs with three consecutive tour titles, and victory in Paris would see him usurp Djokovic as world number one (so long as the Serb does not reach the final).
These two will start as the clear favourites regardless of what happens in Paris, while four other players have also secured their place in the London show-piece. Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Ken Nishikori and Gael Monfils will all compete at the O2, leaving two other places up for grabs. Former US Open winner Marin Cilic is in pole position to claim one of these, however, having recently won his first Masters 1000 title in Basel with an impressive performance.
Who Else is in Contention and Who Will Win?
As for the final spot, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych are the most likely contenders, and a strong showing for either player in Paris could seal their fate. If not, the impressive David Goffin could usurp both of them by lifting the title in Paris, while outsiders Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roberto Bautista Agut must win in the French capital to have any chance of qualifying.
The key contenders have already booked their place at the O2, however, with Murray, Djokovic and the often unplayable Wawrinka the most likely to challenge for honours. The current odds seem to favour Scotsman Murray, however, whose improved focus and tenacity under Ivan Lendl has seen him lose just three games since June and gradually close the once cavernous gap on Djokovic.