Yesterday the superstars of the ATP enjoyed the traditional photo shoot and Gala on Saturday evening. They all looked suave in their matching suits, cracking jokes and sharing laughs but all burning inside with an intense desire to win.
The draw for the ATP World Tour Finals in London came out also came out earlier that day. Roger Federer is in Group B with David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic. Group A includes Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tipsarevic is in the top 8 by virtue of Nadal (who had qualified and would have been seeded 4) pulling out with the knee injury that has plagued him all year. On Monday, Roger loses his #1 ranking (which he has now held for a total of 302 weeks!) to Novak, and as such, he is seeded #2 at the event. Group A seems to be all the odd numbered seeds with Group B taking in all the evens.
Monday, November 5th Day Session: Murray vs. Berdych
Monday, November 5th Night Session: Djokovic vs. Tsonga
Monday, November 6th Day Session: Federer vs. Tipsarevic
Monday, November 6th Night Session: Ferrer vs. del Potro
These Group Sessions will continue till the SFs on Sunday, November 11th with the event culminating in the finals on November 12th.
Roger of course pulled out of Bercy and his fellow top 8 seeds soon crashed out of Paris and joined him in London. The only seed still in Paris is Ferrer who just won his first ever ATP Masters 1000 trophy. What this means for Ferrer and the World Tour Finals is that he will get only Monday off before facing del Potro in his first match at the Finals on Tuesday. He is bound to be tired and drained and as such I would pick del Potro to win this one. Delpo’s only loss indoors this year came at Rotterdam against Federer and since then he’s won multiple titles, most recently back to back at Vienna and Basel; he is one of the in-form indoor players at the moment. An exhausted Ferrer shouldn’t give him too much trouble. Especially since he has now won at Bercy, I feel he will just play as much as he can without straining himself too much. He would also want to save his energy for the Davis Cup Finals later in the year.
Moving away from Ferrer onto the rest of the top 8, Roger really, really should win his match with Tipsarevic. He has a 5-0 record against him and this should technically be the easiest of his 3 group matches. We shall see if he is still rusty and exhausted like he was in Shanghai and Basel or whether skipping Bercy was worth it. In the other group, Nole should win against Tsonga in 2 tight sets but Andy might have problems with Berdych, given he has a 3-4 losing record against the Czech.
Looking ahead, I think the only stumbling block for Roger at the round robin stages could be del Potro. I expect both him and Delpo to make it to the SFs. The other group is tighter to call. Whether Nole is fine despite his father’s illness is a question that will hang in the air till he can show otherwise. Murray has not been able to convert match points in 3 tournaments in a row and might face problems from both Nole and Berdych. I nonetheless predict Nole and Murray reaching the SFs. That is unless Berdych finds his on-again off-again brilliance long enough to make it through, or Tsonga gets inspired by his previous year’s performance, although I don’t feel as if that will happen; Tsonga doesn’t seem to be his usual effusive self these days.
In the finals I can see it being Federer v. Delpo or Federer v. Djokovic. Who wins that day is difficult to call but going by Roger’s past performance and his drive to win this favorite trophy outside the grandslams a record 7th time, I shall cautiously tip this for Roger. I’ve seen some of his practice photos and there is an intensity in his eyes that I feel will drive him straight through till the end. And if Andy isn’t in the final, the crowd will be very pro Federer, as it always is. He will feed off of that to propel himself to another victory.
I just made quite a few strong predictions so either I will come off as wise and a tennis guru, or we could look back on this post 8 days from now and laugh at how delusional and deranged I was. And let’s face it, I’ve been horribly wrong in the past, especially regarding Paris Bercy (but then who hasn’t?) But if you are a Roger Federer fan you know that our faith in Roger to win, especially at a World Tour Final, never falters. Besides, he’s Roger Federer, how could you not be delirious each time you see him fly across the court, poetry in motion, creating silhouettes with each shot? Other than grass, indoors is where he excels. With no outside elements to disturb his play, he can fully unleash his weapons with lethal accuracy, and produce shots you might have read about in a book, but never actually seen. If you ever wanted to know what perfect tennis looks like, watch Roger play at the O2… he’s peRFection personified.