Saturday, 22 October 2011

Winter Preview

With the Asian hard court swing completed there are only two major events to the year left: the Paris masters, and the World Tour Finals in London. In some ways, this part of the season hasn't been much different from last year's; the players are understandably tired - Djokovic is out recovering from a back injury and Federer skipped the Shanghai masters to rest -, Nadal has entered his late year doldrums with a surprising loss to Florian Mayer and an inexplicable final set rollover in the final of Tokyo against Murray; and like primed clockwork, Murray has torn up the Asian hard courts with titles in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai, and only one loss in his last 26 matches. Murray will be the favourite at the Paris Masters after his recent rampage, and he has been playing exceptional, aggressive tennis in the past 3 weeks or so which will put him in good stead to capture Paris on its ultra fast indoor surface.

However, it doesn't follow necessarily that he can sustain this into the World Tour Finals in November. Expect Federer to get all the practice he needs in Paris, and if Nadal manages to pull himself together I actually rate his chances quite highly to make the semi finals or better at the WTF. Djokovic is harder to ascertain. His recovery from the back injury which forced his withdrawal from the Davis Cup against Argentina could be a significant consideration, as well as his lack of match practice and general fatigue, but he still may have enough left in the tank to top off his golden year. That is not to say that Murray's success is dependent on the rest of the top 3 as in this kind of form he is capable of beating anyone, but it could provide an original ending to the year, should he manage to win the year end finals, and deny Djokovic a final coat of polish to his trophy heavy season.

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