Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 11/5/12
I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: the World Tour Finals is the coolest concept for a tournament in the season. Yes, the fact that it’s at the end of a tough year and that some players are hurt and don’t take it so seriously can detract from it, but at the end of the day it is a tournament that involves only top 10 players. Every match is a quality match-up in theory, even if sometimes some players don’t perform. Nadal’s absence weighs heavily on the tournament, though to be fair he would not have been the favorite anyway. Indoor hard courts suit him the least of any surface and he probably would have been favored below Djokovic, Federer, and Murray had he competed. However, he will be watching this tournament with great interest. If David Ferrer wins two of the group matches and wins a semifinal match, then he will pass Nadal in the rankings. This would meant that Nadal would fall to the #5 seed for next year’s Australian Open, something which could have a major impact on the tournament. The tournament is divided into two round-robin groups of 4. The top 2 in each group advance to the semifinals, where the winner of Group A will face the #2 from Group B and vice versa. If you want to check out a detailed explanation of how the top 2 are determined in case of a tie, the ATP explains it in great detail. Group A: Group A is by far the tougher group. In fact, every member of Group A has reached a Grand Slam final. With the exception of Andy Murray, Group A is also filled with strong ball-strikers whose game (in theory) becomes much better indoors. Novak Djokovic is probably the cleanest ball-striker on tour right now (maybe, maybe Federer hits a purer shot when unaffected by the elements), which means that playing indoors should suit him very well. Of course, the indoor conditions also help Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who both hit the ball very hard and may be able to beat past Djokovic’s defense in the fast conditions inside the O2 Arena. You also have to wonder how motivated Djokovic will be, knowing that he already has the year-end #1 wrapped up. Andy Murray is still a top player in the world on indoor hard courts, though they benefit his game much less than they do the other top players. His issue is that in matches in this group, the match will never really be on his racket. He will play his great defense and counterpunch as usual, but if Tsonga or Berdych plays their best tennis, each of them could easily beat him. He will want to do well in front of a home crowd, but you have to think that he got placed in a bad group for him. Predictions: Murray 2-1 (loss to Berdych) Tsonga 2-1 (loss to Murray) Djokovic 1-2 (defeats Berdych) Berdych 1-2 (defeats Murray) Group B: There is no such thing as a weak group in the World Tour Finals, but the presence of Janko Tipsarevic feels like it detracts from the strength of this group. He did earn his spot in the Finals by being a very solid and consistent player, but he doesn’t really have what it takes to beat these other top guys. Del Potro also has a cannon for a forehand but he has kind of flown under the radar this season. He can blast just about anyone off the court indoors, but he will need to find some of his old form again to do it. Roger Federer is probably the undisputed best player ever on indoor courts. His precision with a racket is uncanny and being unaffected by anything really allows him to hit some incredible shots. It’s hard to imagine him losing on an indoor court. Still, Del Potro might be able to do something about it if he can be consistent with his forehand. David Ferrer is just coming off his first career Masters title, and with a combined 8-3 career record against Del Potro and Tipsarevic, he has a real chance to earn that #4 seed at next year’s Australian Open. Predictions: Federer 3-0 Ferrer 2-1 Del Potro 1-2 Tipsarevic 0-3 I don’t usually like making predictions. So much can happen in the span of a tennis match and sometimes players just don’t play up to their potential or play far above their average level. But, like last year, I figured I’d do it for the Finals. Honestly, the only thing I really hope to see here is 15 great tennis matches. Final prediction: Federer over Ferrer
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