The 2013 ATP World Tour Finals are in full swing, as the best players in men's tennis look to finish the season on top.
The usual suspects headline the field of eight competitors, which is split into two groups of four for round-robin play. Rafael Nadal appears to be a lock to advance from Group A, while his archrival, Novak Djokovic, looks poised for another semifinal berth in London.
Andy Murray is out recovering from back surgery, but six-time year-end champion Roger Federer remains in the mix. Underdogs David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet round out the field.
Below, I'll predict which players will advance from round-robin play in London this week.
Winner: Rafael Nadal
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is already off to a dominant start in London, having taken out David Ferrer in straight sets to open up play in Group A. With two matches left against Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, there's no reason to believe Nadal will stumble en route to the semifinals.
Watch for Rafa to finish 3-0 in Group A .
It will be interesting to see how Nadal fares in the single-elimination rounds, though. We've seen the top-ranked Spaniard fade in the later rounds of tournaments since winning the U.S. Open.
We know he'll be a part of the semifinals, but can he turn away Djokovic or del Potro on the indoor hard courts? After all, those two men have each gotten the better of the 13-time Grand Slam champion over the past month, beating him in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively.
Runner-Up: Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka may not pose a serious threat to the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but his overall play in 2013 and performance against Berdych in his opening match suggest he'll be one of the four players to advance from round-robin play this week.
Which player is most likely to advance with Rafa from Group A?
Aside from an unfocused stretch during the second-set tiebreak vs. Berdych, Wawrinka looked comfortable and in control throughout.
Plus, the 28-year-old Swiss star is playing with unrivaled confidence at the moment, having earned his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal berth at the U.S. Open back in September. So long as he can continue to navigate his one-handed backhand down the line, he'll be the second best Group A has to offer.
Ferrer will make things interesting, but he's lost two straight matches going back to the Paris final and is coming off a poor performance in which he committed 33 unforced errors in two sets vs. Nadal.
|2||Juan Martin del Potro||2-1|
Winner: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has won 17 straight matches since his gut-wrenching loss to Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final two months ago. The former world No. 1 has bounced back with three-consecutive hard-court titles in Beijing, Shanghai and, most recently, Paris.
While both Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro are dangerous players who can test Djokovic in a number of ways, the Serb has the edge over both.
He's won his last two meetings with Federer in convincing fashion, including last week in Paris—winning 12 of the last 17 games to win in three sets—and has owned Delpo over the years, taking 10 of 13 career meetings.
Runner-Up: Juan Martin del Potro
With Richard Gasquet blowing a one set to love lead against del Potro in the Group B opener on Day 1, you get the feeling that it'll be a two-man race between Federer and Delpo for the runner-up bid in Group B.
Djokovic is the class of this group, while Gasquet is the most unproven of the bunch. Therefore, the winner of Federer-Delpo is likely headed to the semifinals. Look for del Potro, who's playing with nothing to lose, to emerge:
While Federer leads the all-time head-to-head with Federer, the 6'6" Argentine has had the edge as of late, beating the Swiss legend in three straight meetings prior to Federer's win in Paris last week.
Keep in mind that del Potro beat Federer in round-robin play in London a year ago, surviving a first-set tiebreak and then breaking Fed in the third set to turn the tide in their duel.
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