Big two look primed for Tour title showdown
The absence of Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro from this year’s ATP Tour Finals through injury paves the way for a Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer showdown in the final.
Class always seems to out in this tournament, despite it falling at the end of an arduous year, with last season’s decider between Gregor Dimitrov and David Goffin the first time this decade that at least one of the sport’s elite four players – Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray – failed to make the final.
Djokovic, who has won this tournament five times, has made a remarkable return from injury to regain the world No 1 mantle, becoming the first player since 2000 to be ranked outside the top 20 and then climb back to the top spot in the same season.
The Serbian is a worthy favourite to register another success in London at odds of around 4-6 and the draw has probably been kinder to him than Federer.
Djokovic’s opponents in the Gustavo Kuerten group are Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and John Isner, who all have negative winloss records against the top 10 in the past 12 months, and all performed inconsistently in indoor tournaments this year.
Federer is a 9-4 chance to win the tournament and has been drawn against big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who interestingly has a winning 2-1 record over the Swiss superstar, and Kei Nishikori.
Federer is attempting to win the ATP Tour Finals for the first time since 2011 and has since finished runner-up to Djokovic on three occasions. He has been in good form of late, winning an indoor title in his home country last month and just losing out in a third-set tiebreak to Djokovic in the Paris Masters last week.
Those with tickets to the final will probably get their wish of a dream match-up and Federer looks certain to make the knockout stages, but he could face his toughest test in his first group match against Nishikori.
The Japanese is available at around 20-1 and might provide some value. He has a 15-5 win record indoors this year, and, of the eight stars competing in London, he is ranked second only to Federer in the percentage of service/return points won on this surface in the past 12 months.