Group Stan Smith: Novak Djokovic , Roger Federer , Tomas Berdych , Kei Nishikori 
Group Ilie Nastase: Andy Murray , Stan Wawrinka , Rafael Nadal , David Ferrer 
Britwatch’s Tennis Writers make their picks
LONDON, UK – It is all eyes now on the capital where the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals returns once more – and the Britwatch Tennis Team got together for their regular fisticuffs over who will reign in London
Champion: Novak Djokovic – Right now, unless someone nicks his bags off the River Ferry I can’t see anyone beating him. He is focussed, and is playing the best tennis of his career at the moment. With the Paris title tucked up under his arm he will lift the title again come a week on Sunday. Predictable? Maybe but dominance in the sport comes and goes, and it is his turn at the top.
Dark Horse: Stan Wawrinka – He may have gotten a bit of a bloody nose in his home tournament in Basel, but when he is on, he can give even the best a headache – just ask Djokovic about the French. He is looking more and more at home now at this level, and why not – like Andy Murray, he’s now a two-time Slam champion and while both have a way to go to catch the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic, they are the most credible challengers for the meaty titles right now. This could well be Wawrinka’s year.
Shocker/How Will Andy Murray Do: Group Stages – Murray was confident in pre-tournament press and has been in good form, with a great run to the Paris Masters final for the first time in his career. He told the media in the pre-tournament press conference:
“I think definitely I have a chance to win here. I do think that I have to be a bit realistic in the first few days. I have just switched surfaces and balls and now I will be going back again and I might not be timing the ball perfectly at the beginning of the week but as it goes on hopefully I will start to play better tennis.
“I do feel I have an opportunity here. I think the conditions in Paris are fairly similar to here so it will be interesting to see how I get on. But I do think I am playing well enough to go far.”
We have seen it is possible to have a shot at the knock out stages with just one win out of three at the WTA equivalents, and Murray’s challenges will start with the ever gritty David Ferrer, before going on to face Nadal and Wawrinka. The Swiss could well spring the win, and Nadal could get some measure of revenge for his loss to Murray in at the Madrid Masters final. A loss to Wawrinka is quite possible, but it could fall to Nadal to deliver that final blow.
Champion: Novak Djokovic – The World Tour Finals is an exciting end to the 10-month ATP tour. The major downside to the tournament is that the lengthy and intensive tour schedule takes its toll and this can often be seen in the results of the season-ending finals. For example, Federer not contesting the final last year; Nadal, even in his prime never taking the title. The looming Davis Cup final casts another shadow on the tour finals, with Murray reportedly only playing due to contractual obligations and already practicing on clay in preparation for the final in Belgium.
That said, one player stand above the rest in his physical ability to train, recover and channel all remaining ounces of strength and adrenaline; Djokovic. Despite reaching the final of all four grand slams and eight 1000 series finals, including the Paris final a week ago, he is my favourite. Federer I think may get to the final but he had the misfortune of being in the same group as the world number one so would most likely have to face him twice to win.
Dark Horse: David Ferrer – I’m not sure you can be a Dark Horse in a tournament featuring only the top eight players in the world, but Ferrer would be my top choice. I don’t see Berdych or Nishikori coming out of their group over Federer or Djokovic. Meanwhile Ferrer’s group features Murray who, as mentioned, is prioritising the Davis Cup final, and Nadal who does not have the best record as the O2.
Shocker: Andy Murray & Rafael Nadal – Neither will qualify from their group.
They say nothing is as good preparation as winning matches. However Federer showed that was not the case last year when he went straight from the World Tour Finals to the Davis Cup final and was distinctly off colour. I expect (or maybe it’s just hope) that Andy will get one win under his belt, two losses and move onto Belgium…
Champion- Novak Djokovic: It would be silly to pick somebody else wouldn’t it? Djokovic is a dominant world number one and the favourite for every tournament he enters, and this one is no different. He is full of confidence after winning Pairs to extend his winning streak to 22 matches and the slow court suits his game perfectly. Djokovic to win the title without dropping a set.
Dark Horse- Stan Wawrinka: Avoiding Djokovic is big for the French Open champion. Wawrinka is inconsistent, but when he plays well he can beat anyone in the world. The Swiss has proven that his game suits these courts with two semi-final appearances previously, one of which he had match points to make the final. The slow courts allow Wawrinka to take a big swing and unleash his bombs off both wings, and the group suits him perfectly. He has won the previous match against all three opponents in his group, and he could go 3-0 here. From there who knows?
Shocker/How will Andy Murray do – Group Stages: With one eye on the Davis Cup final, there will be doubts that the best of Murray will be seen next week. The Brit also has a tough group with Wawrinka and Nadal as opponents, so he could easily lose two matches and be gone after the first round.
The last time Murray faced Wawrinka, even though it was two years ago, the Swiss ran out an easy winner in straight sets. The Brit has always struggled with the fourth seed and now Wawrinka is a better player. It will likely come down to the Nadal match and with the Davis Cup on his mind, Andy will not be able to replicate his Madrid performance. The sole win will come against Ferrer who will likely go 0/3 in the group.
The second seed will exit in the group stages and will take the next flight to Ghent to prepare for the Davis Cup final, which is his priority.
Champion: Stan Wawrinka – He has made a habit of stepping up his game a few times a year and I think this will be one of them. Maybe he can’t beat them consistently right now but he can beat them all when he is on. I reckon he will be able to pull out the standard he did in Paris, as he is due another great run.
Dark Horse: Rafael Nadal – After picking Wawrinka as my Champion the Dark Horse is a tough position to fill. If Nadal had found himself in the other group I don’t think he would get through, but he will get through this one and the feeling of being back in the semi-finals could remind him that he has a fair few Grand Slams under his belt and he might just manage to wind the clock back a few years.
Shocker/How will Andy Murray do: Group Stages – Although Murray has had such a fantastic year and it would be brilliant to see him finish number two, I do think there is just too much on his plate for him to be get a good result here. He is chopping and changing surfaces, will most likely be involved in discussions about who to pick for the second GB singles and will be saving himself for Davis Cup even if it is subconsciously. He will come 3rd in his group with his only win coming against David Ferrer but also taking a set off Nadal.
Champion: Novak Djokovic – Can’t really see past the World No. 1 at the season ending championship. Being practically unstoppable this year I’d be surprised if anyone managed to defeat him on the hard court
Dark Horse: David Ferrer – Why not! – He has qualified again without being alternate and if he can defeat Nadal and Wawrinka then I have him in the semi-finals too. With a bit of luck on his side on with the other group and he could win overall
Shocker: Tomas Berdych – to win no matches at all. He is in the group with Djokovic, Federer and Nishikori, that is going to be very tough to progress from.
How will Andy Murray do – Semi-finals: Murray needs to win two matches in the Round Robin to secure the end of year-end No. 2. unless Federer wins the whole event. With the Davis cup final the weekend after this ends I see Murray getting to the semi-finals as he will win at least two of his matches (and possibly all three) – so I’m going with a semi-final finish then back to the clay.
The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals takes place between 15-22 November.
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