LONDON, UK – The Final Showdown finally gets underway as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals kicks off in the Singles with three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the day session and six-time champion Roger Federer in the night session.
Is anyone capable of stopping Djokovic? There is something about London that inspired the Serbian, and especially in this indoor arena. Add to that a completely dominant year once more and a staggering gap between him and the rest of the field in the rankings and Djokovic is sitting pretty.
For Nishikori, it has been a year of building on his breakout performance to reach last year’s US Open final, and while he was not able to emulate this year and once more had to contend with injuries that have seemed to follow him around like a London rain-cloud, he was still able to qualify once more for the World Tour Finals.
Last year he came and gave the home town favourite Andy Murray a bloody nose with a straight sets win in the round robin stages and took a set off Djokovic in the semi-finals. But the moment is definitely with the World No. 1 just now. His last loss was to Federer in the final of the Cincinnati Masters and since that has been on a tear, coming into Sunday’s opener on a 22-match winning streak.
After a very disappointing first round loss at the US Open, Nishikori pocked up the pace a little to reach the Tokyo semi-final but is a little match shy with no back to back wins since then in either the Shanghai Masters or the Paris Masters.
We can expect Nishikori to try and exploit his clever use of angles to try and pull the everywhere-at-once Djokovic off the baseline, but with his improved ability at the net, it will be a tough ask to find that edge.
Nishikori will have to go some to even take a set off Djokovic in the opener and we predict a straight forward opener to ease the three-time defending champion into
It has been a couple of years since Berdych has gotten the better of Federer, last beating him in the Dubai semi-final in 2013. Since then, the Czech’s faith has been put in Andy Murray’s former coach Dani Vallverdu, and his blind reliance on the game-plan has perhaps removed some of his instinct to just play tennis.
Much has been made of Federer’s super-aggressive returning position – the famed Sneak Attack By Roger, and with a comfortable head to head, will we see him advance up the court to unsettle Berdych? Maybe. With no Davis Cup final looking over his head, Federer is looking in pretty fine fettle this time around, albeit with maybe an earlier than expected departure from the Paris Masters.
Still, he will need to tap into some good form to snap his current three-match losing streak and while Berdych is one of the cleanest hitters in the game, Federer will just have that ability to get the ball behind him, leaving him out in the cold.
Djokovic and Nishikori are scheduled on Centre Court not before 2pm, Federer and Berdych are scheduled not before 8pm.
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