The 2018 season is close to an end, leaving us with just the ATP Tour Finals to be played mid-November. And although we saw Khachanov being sensational at Paris and defeating Novak Djokovic in the final, the Russian won’t be in London to once again try to take down the Serbian king.
There’s a strong line-up at the start of the competition, so mini-surprises are possible, but there’s one man who separates from the rest – ATP no. 1 Novak Djokovic. He’s the favorite, with all bookmakers backing him up to win another trophy in the O2 Arena in London. But can the Serbian once again dominate the ATP as he did in the past?
The format of the competition is quite easy: We have two groups, with four players, and they all play against each other. The first two from each group qualify for the semifinals, and furthermore the winners of the semifinals advance to play the final act of the tournament.
Last season, we had a surprising final, between Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin. The Bulgarian, 6th seed, won the game in three sets, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Neither of them qualified for this year’s edition, however.
Since 2009, the season the competition became known as ATP’s Tour Finals, the most titles went to Novak Djokovic (4).
Betting on the competition and especially on the winner of the whole tournament can’t be a piece of cake, because we have the creme de la creme over here, but if you know the strengths and weaknesses of each player, then a decision can be validated with more ease. Below, we’ve prepared a quick description for each of the eight players who will take part in this competition.
1. Novak Djokovic ( 1.70 odds)
The Serbian recently surpassed Rafael Nadal for the no 1 spot in the ATP rankings. Nole, 31-years old, recently played and lost the Paris-Bercy final, but will enter the World Tour Finals with four titles by his name in 2018 – Wimbledon, Cincinnati, US Open and Shanghai. Djokovic is now at full capacity after missing part of the 2017 season with an elbow injury.
He returned with visible doubts in his game, hitting the ball with no confidence whatsoever, but a champion always knows how to recover.
Novak won the ATP Tour Finals five times before, in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. This seems to be the year Nole is taking back what’s his, so no wonder he’s the prime candidate for another title at the O2 Arena in London.
2. Roger Federer ( 4.50 odds)
Even at 37-years of age, Roger continues to impress us. The Swiss in 3rd in the ATP rankings, having won four titles this season – at Australian Open, Rotterdam, Stuttgart, and Basel. He played in the semifinals at Paris, losing in three sets, 6-7, 7-5, 6-7, against Novak Djokovic.
Federer skipped the clay season in order to keep his forces to play the rest of the season, and that proved to be a wise decision. However, he recently declared that there’s a feeling of regret sometimes, but he feels he made the right call because, at 37, it would have been hard for him to end the season if he chose to play on clay.
Six times has Roger been crowned champion at the ATP Tour Finals, in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. His absence from the winners’ list has been caused by the fact that he always reached this tournament with zero reserves of energy.
3. Rafael Nadal ( 9.00 odds)
Rafa last played at US Open, where he had to withdraw from the semifinal against Juan Martin Del Potro. He announced his presence at Paris but had to declare forfeit due to some abdominal pains. This meant that the Spaniard fell off the top position in the ATP Rankings and could put in danger his participation at London.
His season was brilliant, especially on clay: Nadal won at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Roma and Roland Garros, plus Toronto on hard.
Two times champion at the ATP Tour Finals, Rafa could see his season end a lot sooner than we wished for.
4. Alexander Zverev ( 13.00 odds)
Sasha is the best player coming from the new generation. Actually, at 21-years of age and with 9 ATP titles to his name, we can genuinely say that Zverev is not a promise anymore, but a household name. The German has three trophies in 2018, at Munich, Madrid, and Washington, yet his recent results are giving us the impression that this wasn’t the campaign Sasha was capable of.
Zverev lost in the semifinals at Basel against Romanian Marius Copil, while at Paris was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Khachanov.
He got to play on O2 Arena last season but was eliminated in Round Robin, beating Cilic and losing to both Federer and Sock.
5. Marin Cilic ( 15.00 odds)
Marin is that type of player who can beat anyone on a good day. Currently sitting 7th in the ATP Rankings, the Croatian took part in the last two ATP Tour Finals tournaments. However, from six matches, he only managed to win one. At the last edition, he played three sets with Federer, Sock, and Zverev, but lost all three matches.
Finally, he won just a single title this year, at London, on grass. Will Great Britain’s capital be once against lucky for Cilic?
6. Dominic Thiem ( 25.00 odds)
The 25-years old Austrian has 11 ATP trophies to his name and in generally better on clay than on other surfaces. But Thiem is impressive with his one-handed backhand, a shot more and more accurate with each season!
He has just one title on hard, won this season at St Petersburg. After that success, Dominic lost to Ebden in the first round at Shanghai. He reached the semifinals phase at Paris, losing to Khachanov in two sets.
This is the third consecutive year Thiem has qualified to the ATP Tour Finals, but each time Dominic got to London with a questionable form. He never passed Round Robin.
7. Kevin Anderson ( 25.00 odds)
Anderson stopped a three-year drought with a title at New York and afterward followed with a Wimbledon final. He later got his second trophy of the season, at Vienna, on hard indoor. This will be his first appearance at the ATP Tour Finals competition and although he proved some improvements with his backhand this season, his serve remains his primary weapon and that doesn’t seem to be enough in a tournament where only the best of the best take part.
8. Kei Nishikori ( 25.00 odds)
Nishikori is 9th in the ATP rankings, but the fact that Del Potro can’t attend this competition gave him the opportunity to try and shine in London. He made it to the semifinals in two of his three previous appearances in London, so Kei is a player to watch for. Nishikori had some huge problems regarding some injuries, but he’ll all fine now and with strong results lately, including a US Open semifinal.
He’s known for his tenacious style of play and can be a pain in the back for most opponents.
These are the eight that have assured their tickets for London this November, but we must talk about two other players. First of all, Juan Martin Del Potro is a fan favorite and should be there as the number 5 seed, yet an injury keeps him away from the tennis court. “Good” news for Nishikori, but we’re pretty sure the Japanese would have wanted to qualify on his own. Secondly, there’s no guarantee Rafael Nadal will even begin the tournament. Actually, rumors say that the Spaniard will soon announce that he’s going to withdraw from the competition. That leaves an open spot and John Isner will be the one to take it. So a few words about the American.
9. John Isner ( ? odds)
Big John is 33-years old and is playing the best tennis of his career. At least the most complete, because most people had the impression that Isner’s game is just about his serve. But the American has a devastating forehand and a good movement for a man of his size. Has won two titles this year, at Miami and Atlanta, and will have his first chance to prove himself at the ATP Tour Finals.
After the US Open quarter-finals, John hasn’t quite had the best results possible, so it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the table.
Undoubtedly, Novak Djokovic is the big favorite going to London, no matter who’s your favorite tennis player. With Rafa Nadal most likely out for this competition, it leaves Federer, Nishikori, and Cilic from the veterans to challenge him. From this “pack”, we think the one that could set some problems for Nole is Cilic. The Croatian holds a strong serve and an even powerful forehand, demanding Djokovic to always be careful in his defense. You can argue that Federer put on a good fight at Paris and was so close on beating Djokovic, but lately, a close Nole – Roger duel has proved more than rare, especially on this surface. Zverev is in “no man’s land” right now with his form, while Thiem and Isner, although they have capable weapons, don’t look prepared to take down Djoko in a final.
All in all, we expect a close group stage, considering the variety of styles that will confront on the court in the O2 Arena in London, but there’s a clear winner in our mind – Novak Djokovic.