With Novak Djokovic hot on his heels with 5, Roger Federer will look to extend his record 6 titles at the ATP Finals to 7 with victory this week. He plays Dominic Thiem in the opening night of the tournament, who he holds a losing record against at 2-4. That includes two matches this year won by the Austrian but Federer will take heart from his comfortable win at last year’s finals.
Thiem’s strength is clearly his clay court player but it was a post-US Open run that guaranteed his place in the end of year event. He won Beijing and his home tournament in Vienna, filling him with plenty of confidence coming into the final tournament of the season. He added those to three other titles earlier in the year, most notably at Indian Wells. That win appears to have given him the confidence to perform better on hard courts, where a different strategy is needed and he can’t just stand at the baseline all match. “Indian Wells was just amazing because I came from a very tough period, I’d just split up with my coach, so everything came together,” Thiem has said. “I somehow freed myself and won the tournament, somehow. I didn’t know why that happened, that was amazing, my first ATP Masters 1000 title, I didn’t expect it.”
Federer once again picked up the title in Basel in his sole indoor court play prior to this event. It is now 10 times he has won the event in his home country and there was little struggle for him this time round, as he swept through a weak draw without winning a set. The ATP Finals and indoor courts in general have always been a great place for Federer, who has been unbreakable at times on the surface. The slowing down of courts don’t fave him so much now but it still remains a favoured surface for the Swiss. “It feels like I come home in some ways [when I play indoors], so it’s the same thing here,” Federer said. “So far I’ve felt great, the court plays nice and I’m sure we’ll see some great tennis.”
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets