Rarely has the season-finale on the men’s tour been so relevant to the rankings, for both singles and doubles the top spots are fragile at least and ripe for change in the next few months.
But who will triumph and where will the key battles be? Let’s sink our teeth into this one.
Group John McEnroe– Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic
The more attractive of the two groups sees a generous blend of playing styles and inter-rivalries play out; all players are in form, especially Murray and Cilic.
The newly crowned world number one doesn’t have a particularly d=strong record here – by his own lofty standards anyway, with ‘just’ three semi-finals to his name since his debut in 2008. Indoor conditions don’t exactly play to his strengths, but such is his form I expect him to still top the group.
Across his trio of appearances here, Wawrinka has reached the semi-finals each time, and he may have to rely on such familiarity here as his record coming into the tournament is fairly unremarkable since that US Open triumph.
Nishikori and Cilic will likely adopt an ‘enjoy the experience’ attitude to the week in London, neither have a glittering record – although Kei was a semi-finalist in 2014 – and both will struggle against Murray. Stan could be beatable depending on which version of the Swiss turns up.
Who will progress? – Murray (winner) and Wawrinka (close with Cilic)
Group Ivan Lendl – Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils, Dominic Thiem
Novak has points to defend and a point to prove this week, but although he will progress in the group stages, I just don’t know after that. The Serb is prone to a bigger and more prolonged loss of confidence and aura than say a Federer or Nadal. He will have too much for Monfils and should conquer debutant Thiem in the opener today, but Raonic and his serve could cause issues.
What of the rest of the group? Harder to predict certainly. My head says Raonic but my heart clings to Gael for something of a swansong performance here. It is Monfils’ first time here also but he will embrace the sizeable theatre moreso than Thiem who will surely become a regular at the tournament.
Who will progress? – Djokovic (winner) and Raonic (close with Monfils)
Knockout stages? I fancy Murray to triumph in the final but against Wawrinka, who will prove a thorn in Novak’s side yet again.
Doubles race for top spot reaches fever pitch in London.
In a line-up glittering with major winners this year, it is between top chiens Mahut/Herbert and surging challengers Soares/Murray to claim the rankings spoils. The French duo triumphed in Wimbledon whilst the Brazilian/British pair won Down Under and in New York.
French Open winners Marc and Feliciano Lopez will also be dangerous floaters – as will the evergreen Bryan brothers, looking to cap a lacklustre season with a high.
Bring. It. On
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