Here we are then, at the end of a long but exciting journey and we are about 15 matches away from the end of the Tennis Season. The Indoor Grand Slam aka The Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals. I hope you will bear with me as I use the acronym YEC (Year End Championships) rather than the funny or sad WTF acronym that the ATP has bestowed upon us Tennis fans. Now that we have addressed the very important stuff, let us get to the less interesting stuff – the players and how the draw favours or handicaps them!
Group A (aka Rafa Nadal pwned group)
Rafael Nadal is 47-8 against the other 3 players in his group. Tomas “Baby Safin” Berdych has not beaten him in a very long time. Stanislas “The Junior French Open Champ” Wawrinka has never beaten him. We can safely assume Nadal will negotiate his way through this group without much difficulty. The biggest obstacle for Nadal will be the pressure that comes with his efforts to keep the No.1 ranking away from Novak Djokovic. That should not persist for long as Djokovic is in the Group of Death with Roger Federer, Juan Martin Delpotro and Richard Gasquet. Having said that, Rafael Nadal has been in a minor title draught by the superior standards he has set for himself, particularly this year. He has not won a tournament since his red hot run on the North American Hard Courts.
Nadal will be opening his campaign against his country-man David Ferrer. In a day that is straight out of the spookiest of science-fiction movies, both the single matches on Day 2 at the O2 Arena in London are a repeat of the matches at the BNP Paribas Masters aka Indoor French Open, on the previous Saturday. I do expect Nadal to be more pumped up here and he should win this rematch against his amigo in two tough and hard-fought sets. Ferrer on his part will have to overcome the disappointment of 2 consecutive losses in the last 2 finals he has contested. In Valencia, Grigor Dimitrov upset Ferrer at the final hurdle and in Paris, last week Djokovic did his usual Houdini tricks to steal the match from Tennis’ version of a foot soldier or worker bee, David Ferrer.
Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka who are much more accomplished in the social Media and definitely outshine the other top 8 players on that front, will hope to let their Tennis speak more loudly than their tweets or facebook posts. They have ushered the tournament with a wonderful match filled with great shotmaking from both the players. However, I look at their recent form and their past history and it is going to be hard for either of these two to upset the Spanish duo in their group.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to top the group and David Ferrer to be 2nd.
Group B (aka Group of Death)
This is going to be a mighty tough group to call. If you had to rank the top 5 gifted tennis players in the 8 players at London, these 4 will figure in the top 5 of most people’s list. This group has 24 Grandslams, 400+ weeks at no.1 and 8 Year End Championship titles as opposed to 13, 100 (approximately) weeks at no.1 and 0 ATP World Tour Finals titles.
Novak Djokovic comes in as the overwhelming favourite into this event. He is positively back in top gear and he is yet to lose a match since the US Open final. If anyone can win this event unbeaten, in spite of being dealt the draw from hell, it has to be Djokovic. He will need to do so in order to have any chance of ending this year no.1. Djokovic looks hungry and ready to achieve this most improbable event, but as we have noticed in the business end of the matches in Shanghai and Paris, Roger Federer and Juan Martin Delpotro can really throw a spanner into the best laid plans. I will however pick Novak to top the group. He might lose a match to Federer or Delpotro but he will not be denied a semi-final spot.
Juan Martin Delpotro has to be the other favourite, slightly edging out the 6-time Champion Roger Federer. Federer has clearly shown the ability to take down Delpotro, as he took down Delpotro in the 2nd of their 2 match mini-rivalry in this Indoor Season. This group will boil down to the match between these 2 wonderful champs and I am leaning towards the Tower of Tandel to edge out the Bedazzler from Basel in 3 tough sets. Roger Federer could, of course perform his usual magical tricks – he has had quite a few of them at this tournament and run the table without even one loss, but the odds are stacked against the great one.
Richard Gasquet should be asking “Why Me?” after seeing the draw, but the silver lining for Mr. Single Hand Backhand is that he has nothing to lose and can play with a free mind and take his chances against the other 3 players in his group, all of them Grand Slam Champions. Gasquet has had his chances last night against Delpotro and failed to convert. He will have a few more chances coming his way and he will want to make the most of it.
Predictions: Novak Djokovic to top the group, followed by Juan Martin Delpotro.
Semi-Finals and Finals
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic in straight sets over David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal in a 3 set win over Juan Martin Delpotro.
Finals: Novak Djokovic to edge out Rafael Nadal in a three set battle.