Only one tournament remains on the ATP calendar: the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals. The event kicks off in London on Sunday.
This prestigious tournament features the top eight ranked players in the world battling in round-robin format. The event concludes with semifinal and championship matches.
This year's participants are: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfired Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish. Fish will be the only newcomer at the event; Federer and Djokovic are former world tour finals champions.
I will break down the two groups in the following predictions, which include the semifinal and final matches.
Group A Participants (In Order of Predicted Finish)
Since losing in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September, Andy Murray has been on a tear. The Scot has won 17 of his 18 matches, and has completed the "Asian Treble" with wins in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.
He suffered a slight injury in Basel, but should be at full-strength for London. Playing at home should give the world's No. 3 a big boost.
Djokovic will be trying to cap one of the greatest seasons the world of tennis has ever seen. He has won 10 titles—three of them grand slams—and has lost only four matches over the course of the year.
Injuries have hampered the Serb lately, but an extra week of rest will definitely benefit the top-ranked player in the world.
More than anyone else on tour, David Ferrer's year has been a grind. He plays a very consistent, error-free game and doesn't give or get free points all too often. He rarely loses to a player that he shouldn't lose to—but has yet to really break out against the bigger names on tour.
Tomas Berdych burst onto the scene last year with impressive runs at the French Open and Wimbledon. This year has been relatively on-and-off for the native Czech. He struggles quite a bit with consistency, and has trouble playing well for entire matches—much less tournaments.
Group A Summary
Murray and Djokovic should have no problem disposing of their lesser opponents—Ferrer and Berdych—and can then duke it out in a winner-take-all match.
I see Murray edging past Nole and securing the important top spot, although the Serb will also get a slot in the semis.
Group B Participants In Their Finishing Order
Federer comes in to the finals much like he came in last year—on fire. The Swiss Maestro enters on a 12-match win streak, with titles in Basel and Paris.
Despite the all-time great struggling into the world's No. 4 slot, he loves the indoor surface, and will come out with guns blazing.
Tsonga has had a breakthrough this season, finally proving that he can play ball with the big boys. He too is coming off a good run; he was the runner-up to Fed in Paris.
The French native blasts the ball off both wings and has developed a surprisingly deft touch at the net. The Wimbledon semifinalist will be looking to cap off a good year at the year-end masters.
Nadal has never particularly liked the indoor surface—his game is much better suited for a slower-paced court.
This year has been tough on last year's No. 1. Novak Djokovic burst onto the scene and beat the Spaniard in two Grand Slam finals. Rafa has also been injured quite often, due to his almost violent style of play. He will struggle with the three relatively good indoor players in his group.
Fish has broken out in 2011. The 29-year-old American secured a Top 10 spot for the very first time. With a newly-found focus on fitness, he might be here to stay. Fish is in a tough group here, but this tournament is his chance to really prove himself.
Group B Summary
Group B is a lot more tricky than the first one. Federer will battle through—but win—all three of his matches, while the other two will fight it out. Nadal will beat Tsonga, Tonga will beat Fish, and of course, Mardy will take out Rafa.
The tiebreaker is the total number of sets lost. I see the matches going something like this:
Federer def. Fish in two.
Federer def. Tsonga in three.
Federer def. Nadal in three.
Nadal def. Tsonga in three.
Fish def. Nadal in three
Tsonga def. Fish in two.
So Nadal goes 4-5, Fish 2-5 and Tsonga 4-4—handing him a spot in the knockout round.
Knockout Rounds: Semis
Murray (A1) def. Tsonga (B2)
Andy should not have much trouble dealing with the powerful Frenchman, and will pull out his 21st win in 22 matches.
Federer (B1) def. Djokovic (A2)
Fed will fight past the Djoker to avenge his devastating U.S. Open loss. Federer becomes the second player to defeat Djokovic twice in 2011 (Murray is the other).
Final: Murray def. Federer
Andy will cap off a great fall season with his fifth title of the year. He will ride the crowd to win his first year-end masters and keep Federer from his sixth, record-setting win at the event.
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