Sunday, 4 November 2012

ATP World Tour Finals 2012 Preview

The groups have been set for another electrifying clash between the top 8 players in the world. Rafael Nadal's absence is still conspicuous, but regardless, this is going to be a huge face off for the current top 3 which will set the tone for the first Grand Slam of 2013. Novak Djokovic has secured the year end no.1 ranking for the second year in succession; Federer is defending the title he has now won twice in succession, and Murray is looking to end his career year with a flourish. They are certainly the front runners - but at this time of year, don't be surprised if neither man wins the tournament. Ferrer, Tsonga, Del Potro and Berdych are all players with the ability to take down the big 3, and if they hit top form expect some fierce battles from the group stage to the final.

Group breakdown:

Group A: Djokovic, Murray, Berdych, Tsonga

If there's a group of death, this has to be it. Djokovic and Murray are the obvious choices to make the semi finals, but Berdych and Tsonga are perhaps the two players you don't want to have to play back to back in the group stage. Both possess heavy artillery off the ground, huge serves and are excellent on indoor hardcourt. If Tsonga in particular turns up to London in good form, he loves playing on grand stages and could knock off one of the favourites. Berdych has been excellent form in this half of the year and is more than capable of causing an upset too, if his power play style is clicking. Combine that with the unexpected exits of Murray and Djokovic from the Paris Masters last week, it suggests either one may be feeling the fatigue of a long season in which they have battled many times. Comparably however, both are in much better form than this time last year, and I'd still expect both to make the semi finals.

Group B: Federer, Ferrer, Del Potro, Tipsarevic

Federer shouldn't have much trouble making it to the final four with this competition, with only a potential loss coming against Del Potro, who defeated him in his hometown tournament of Basel two weeks ago. More interesting is the fight for the final spot in the semi finals - Del Potro is the favourite, but I'm not counting out Ferrer, who is coming off his first Masters title in Paris, and must be confident he can equal his performance last year. He holds a strong record over Del Potro and the ability to neutralise the giant Argentinian's power, and it could be an early pivotal group match in the round robin stage. Overall Del Potro's form this year has been impressive, and it would be great to see him challenging for the title again, as he did in his flagship year of 2009. Tipsarevic plays the role of spoiler, but I don't see him taking down Federer indoors, Del Potro, or Ferrer, with whom he shared an epic 5 set match at the US Open this year.

Semi-finalists: Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Del Potro

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