The 2012 ATP World Tour Finals are in full swing out in London. And while the eight-man tournament lacks the flash and attention of the four majors, it's actually one of the most important––and entertaining––events on the annual tennis calendar.
With the eight top-ranked players on the ATP circuit (sans an injured Rafael Nadal) competing round-robin style in two groups, the tournament sees more consistently competitive matches than any other event in the sport.
And after a memorable Day 3––the first that saw both matches go into the decisive third set––hopes are high for another memorable outing on Day 4.
Let's take a look at what's in store:
(2) Roger Federer vs. (4) David Ferrer
The day's premier event comes first on the singles side, and features defending champion Roger Federer against Spain's David Ferrer.
Federer breezed through Janko Tipsarevic in his first match, sweeping two sets 6-3, 6-1. Ferrer, meanwhile, was tested by feisty Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, before winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
With both men 1-0, the winner of this match will clinch a spot in the next round. And with another win on Day 6, they would likely be able to avoid Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. So while it may not have do-or-die implications, there is certainly still plenty at stake.
This is also a rematch of last year's semifinal, where Federer upended Ferrer 7-5, 6-3 en route to the championship. Federer also demolished Ferrer 6-1, 6-4 in the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals, starting Ferrer's journey to an 0-3 exit.
Those losses are sure to leave a sour taste in Ferrer's mouth, as he attempts to represent Spain in Nadal's conspicuous absence.
(6) Juan Martin del Potro vs. Janko Tipsarevic
It's (essentially) win or go home in Day 4's later match, where Juan Martin Del Potro takes on Janko Tipsarevic.
Tipsarevic made his World Tour Finals debut under bizarre circumstances last year, replacing Andy Murray after the Brit was forced to withdraw against David Ferrer. As the first alternate, Tipsarevic acquitted himself nicely in his two matches. He lost a nail-biter against Tomas Berdych (coughing up match point in the process) before upsetting his good friend Novak Djokovic.
Now, qualifying directly for the first time, Tipsarevic already finds himself on the ropes after one match. A loss against Ferrer would all but eliminate him from the competition, especially considering the decisive score Federer beat him by.
Del Potro is making his first appearance in the World Finals since 2009, but he's no stranger to success in the tournament. On the strength of a group play upset over Roger Federer, he advanced to the semifinals, where he beat Robin Soderling before finishing runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko.
His three-set loss to Ferrer in his first match was distressing, but doesn't necessarily presage his doom in the tournament; he actually lost his first match in 2009 as well.
It doesn't have the panache (or the alliteratively similar names) of the Federer-Ferrer matchup, but this one should be just as much fun.