Novak Djokovic kicks off the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday afternoon when he takes on the final qualifier Dominic Thiem. It is the first time in over two years that the Serbian will take to the court as anything other than the World No.1 after Andy Murray’s surge to the top spot on the back off an outstanding second half of the season.
Djokovic will need to win the title to have the opportunity to be No.1 and should have no problems in navigating his group which probably contains the weaker seed in each grouping of players between the two groups. The ATP tour doesn’t really have much of an indoor season where the top players play aside from Paris so there isn’t much form to go on but Djokovic was poor in his loss to fellow WTF competitor Marin Cilic. The Croatian came out on top in straight sets to essentially displace Djokovic from his top spot in the rankings.
Meanwhile, Thiem has also suffered in the second half of the year after his first half saw him break into the top 10 for the first time in his career thanks to some impressive appearances on the clay – most notably making the semi finals of the French Open. It hasn’t been much to shout about in the second half but Thiem does have an Metz final indoors to his name but has otherwise been found wanting, ending the regular season with two disappointing straight sets losses to Viktor Troicki and Jack Sock in Vienna and Paris respectively.
It feels like Thiem could be the whipping boy at this tournament given the way his season has petered out and opening against Djokovic is not likely to be a whole lot of fun. Djokovic is 3-0 overall and 2-0 this year – winning all five sets they have played.
Prediction – Djokovic in straight sets