Preview and Predictions for ATP Finals

by John on November 11, 2017

The ATP Finals begin Sunday, ostensibly featuring the eight best men players in the world. There are however some illusions with the premise that the best eight are gathering at the O2 Arena in London for the prestigious year-ending tournament. Injuries have riddled the ATP Tour in 2017 like no season in recent memory and it’s no more evident than who is playing in London and who isn’t. Top seed Rafael Nadal and No. 2 seed Roger Federer lead the field, followed in order by Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Jack Sock. Cilic and Thiem are the only returning qualifiers from the 2016 tournament. Federer and Nadal were out with injuries last year. Absent and out for this year are Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. All five made the finals last year and would more than likely be in London sans injuries. That said, there’s no disgrace for those newbies getting to London as the best of the rest. Rafa and Roger have been the dominant forces in men’s tennis in 2017, each winning two Grand Slams apiece, and on paper should be outlandish favorites to play each other in the final. The eight qualifiers are divided into two groups of four. On Nadal’s side of the round-robin draw are Goffin, Thiem and Dimitrov, who have a combined 3-17 record against the Spaniard. Federer’s side, consisting of Zverev, Cilic and Sock, have a slightly better combined record of 3-12 against the Swiss Maestro. With such a history of dominance, the finalists look to be a certainty. However, in what could be a tournament director’s nightmare, Nadal and his troublesome right knee might not be 100 percent for his opening match on Monday. His status is somewhat iffy. If the Spaniard would withdraw it would be catastrophic for the tournament. Rafa pulled out of the Paris Masters before his quarterfinal match last week after experiencing discomfort in the knee during this third-round win against Pablo Cuevas. “Hopefully the knee is good,” Nadal said. “I’ve done everything I’ve needed to do in order to get ready for London… Let’s see if I am able to be 100 per cent to compete. If nothing happens, then I will play.” Nadal has qualified for the ATP Tour Finals 13 times, but never won the tournament. The No. 1-ranked Spaniard wants it badly. Federer, who has had a superlative year with a 49-4 record and seven titles, rested last week, skipping Paris to be fresh for London. At this time of the year it’s a little hard to predict how much a player has left in the tank. Everyone is a little worn down from the long season and perhaps a bit nicked up too. Still, the stakes are high. If Nadal is healthy I see him winning his group 3-0 with Dimitrov 2-1. Federer’s path to the finals is a little more difficult. Zverev has a 2-2 record against Federer, and if he’s feeling his oats could give the Swiss some trouble. Federer should battle to win his group with a 3-0 record, with Zverev coming in second at 2-1. Thus the semis will pair Nadal against Zverev and Federer versus Dimitrov. This portends very well for a Fedal final. Can’t see it any other way.

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