The season ending ATP World Tour Finals kicks off on Sunday with 8 of the World’s top 9 players involved in the round robin event. Surgery put an early end to Rafael Nadal’s season with Milos Raonic the beneficiary of his withdrawal. The winner can take away up to a possible 1500 ranking points and just under $2m in prize money.
Check out the Draw here: ATP World Tour Finals 2014 Draw
Group A is headed by Novak Djokovic. The Serbian won 4 Masters 1000 events in addition to Wimbledon, results that make up just under 60% of his total YTD points. Alongside him will be the two players who shocked the world by pulling away the strong grip the Big 4 had on the slam titles. Stanislas Wawrinka’s Australian Open victory was a surprise even though he had shown glimpses that he was a Slam threat in 2013 but Marin Cilic was one that noone could see coming.
The Croatian’s return after a ban for a doping violation brought him one of his best years in his career. After pushing Novak Djokovic to 5 sets at Wimbledon, he would surpass all expectations in New York with an extraordinary victory, winning 9 sets in a row against Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori to win the US Open. It went to the final week of the season for Tomas Berdych, who sealed his place with a semi final in Paris. The Czech won two titles – Stockholm and Rotterdam, both of which are on indoor hard.
Given that Djokovic is a combined 41-5 against his group, it would be difficult to predict him as anything other than the winner as he looks to seal year end No.1. Stanislas Wawrinka holds winning head to heads over the other two but is in such unconvincing form that the bookmakers consider him least likely to win the event after 4 losses in his last 5. Cilic and Berdych both have titles in the past month while Berdych holds the slight edge in the head to head. However, the most recent meeting was the aforementioned straight sets victory in the US Open quarter finals. The last indoor meeting was won convincingly by Berdych in 2, 6-4 6-2 in the Rotterdam final.
1. Novak Djokovic
2. Marin Cilic
Group B is led by Roger Federer whose late charge for the Year End No.1 spot should now come up short. Finishing as World No.2 (although the late absence of Rafael Nadal should account for the near 2000 point difference between the two currently) signifies an impressive return after a torrid 2013 by the Swiss’s very high standards. He will be disappointed to have gone slamless after a Wimbledon final and being victories over Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori away from No.18 at the US Open but the high standard he is currently playing at should ensure that wasn’t his last chance. Alongside Federer are Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori.
It has been a bizarre year for Andy Murray who has struggled for consistency after his recovery from a back injury this year. He was desperate to make this event and this showed in his scheduling where he played 6 straight weeks to earn his place. Titles in Shenzhen, Valencia and Vienna were the key wins that allowed him to move back up to No.6 in the world and comfortably into qualification for the event. While Murray actually holds a 12-11 head to head over Federer, he has not had it his own way in London, losing each of the 3 meetings at the World Tour Finals.
Federer has famously dealt with big serving players but Milos Raonic showed his marked improvement this year with a straight sets win in Paris over Federer on his way to the final. He was convincingly defeated by Djokovic in the final but the 600 points for getting that far were vital in sealing the last position in this event. The Canadian is the only player competing that has won only 1 event this year – the Citi Open in Washington D.C.
Nishikori also confirmed his place in Paris with a semi final to cap an impressive year that could have been much better had he not succumbed to injuries as the story has been in his career. He got to No.5 despite making it past the R16 at a slam once and missing three Masters 1000 events. Had his body held up, a title in Madrid would also have been likely but Nadal would eventually win the title via a retirement in the third set.
Like Group A, the top spot seems destined to go to Federer who should bounce back and go to 7-1 over Raonic. As for second, it could be anyone’s with Murray 3-0 over Nishikori, who is 4-1 over Raonic while the Canadian leads the head to head over Murray 4-2.
1. Roger Federer
2. Milos Raonic
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Milos Raonic
SF: Roger Federer def. Marin Cilic
F: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer