The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals kicks off on Sunday in London. The best of three sets competition features the top eight ranked players in the world. The competitors are divided into two groups of four, and play round-robin matches against the other players in their group. The two players with the best records in each group progress to the semi-finals, with the winners meeting in the final. Roger Federer is the reigning champion, having beaten Rafael Nadal 6–3 3–6 6–1 in the 2010 final. You can follow all of the action from the official website here.
Below are the 2011 groups, with each player’s current world ranking in brackets.
Despite being ranked fourth in the world, Roger Federer will start as the tournament favourite after winning the Paris ATP event last week. The Paris tournament featured every player in this competition except Nadal, although Djokovic withdrew mid-tournament with a shoulder injury. Berdych is the third favourite to win group A, but given his recent form the 8.00 odds to win the group are worth a shout.
First Round Head to Heads
Federer vs Tsonga
Head to head history and form: Federer boasts a 6-3 record against Tsonga, with a 4-2 record this year. Federer has won the last two meetings, the most notable of which was last week. Federer is in fantastic form at the moment, having won the Basel and Paris ATP events prior to the tournament. Tsonga is in strong form himself, making it to the Paris final last week and winning in Vienna earlier this year.
You have to like Federer’s chances here. He comes into this fixture on the back of a 6-1 7-6(3) win over Tsonga last week in front of a Parisian crowd. Federer is also enjoying a strong winning streak, having won the last two events he competed in. Unfortunately, the bookmaker odds reflect this, but at 1.19, it is still arguably worth backing him.
Nadal vs Fish
Head to head history and form: Nadal has a commanding 7-1 record against Fish, with a 2-1 record this year. Nadal’s only defeat was 6-3 6-4 in Cincinnati. In their most recent meeting in Toyko, Nadal triumphed 7-5 6-1. Neither player is in fantastic form. Fish has retired injured in his last two tournaments, while in his most recent match, Nadal lost 7-6(5) 6-3 to Florian Mayer in a fixture where he was the 1.03 favourite.
Given the prestige of this tournament, I expect Nadal to be focused and competitive. I back him to win, although the 1.21 odds make it marginal whether it’s worth the risk.
Murray vs Ferrer
Head to head history and form: Murray has a 5-3 record against Ferrer, and has won the last four meetings between them, three of which were this year. Their most recent clash was in Shanghai, when Murray trimuphed 7-5 6-4. Apart from his 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 loss to Berdych in Paris, Murray has been in excellent form, having won the Tokyo and Shanghai ATP events prior to Paris. Ferrer’s high world ranking is a tribute to his consistency and the quantity of tournaments he plays in. He consistently beats second tier players, but consistently loses to the top tier players as well. Interestingly, in the eight matches between Murray and Ferrer, the bookmaker’s favourite has always triumphed.
I would back Murray here, despite the low 1.14 odds. I recommend shopping around to see if you can find better value.
Djokovic vs Berdych
Head to head history and form: Djokovic boasts a commanding 7-1 record over Berdych. He has won every hard court match between the two, with his one loss coming at the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010. In their last two meetings Djokovic won after Berdych retired with injury. Both players are in indifferent form by their standards at the moment. Since winning the US Open Djokovic has retired injured in two events, and suffered a shock 2-6 7-6(4) 6-0 defeat to Kei Nishikori in Basel. Interestingly, Nishikori also beat Berdych in the same tournament, although Berdych will be pleased by his performance in Paris. He beat Murray 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in the quarters before losing 6-4 6-3 to Federer.
This game has the best chance of an upset out of the opening matches. Djokovic’s shoulder injury remains a concern, and Berdych’s ability to break Murray’s winning streak last week should serve as a major warning sign. While I back Djokovic to win, given his form and shoulder problems, Berych at 2.90 represents a better value bet.