Busted Racquet predicts each match at the upcoming ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Group A (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish):
Federer hasn't lost since his heartbreaking U.S. Open defeat to Novak Djokovic. The competition hasn't been stiff -- wins over Berdych and Tsonga were the only top-15 victories Federer has in that stretch -- but his play has been superb. Nadal hasn't played in more than a month and looked rusty the last time he stepped on the court. A match against Tsonga could decide who advances to the semis.
Group B (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych):
Does Novak Djokovic have enough in the tank to make one final run at the "greatest season of all-time" distinction? Probably not; the loss to Kei Nishikori in the semifinals of Basel followed by his withdrawal in Paris were two big strikes against him. But if, and it's a huge if, Djokovic runs the table in Group B and wins the year-end finals, doesn't he have to be back on top? Three majors and a 15-1 record over the top four in the rankings makes for a solid resume. That's all moot though. Djokovic's injury will prove to be too much, Murray will get the best of him in their blockbuster round-robin match and a listless loss to Ferrer will force the Serbian out of the semifinals based on tiebreakers.
Round Robin Standings
In 2009 and 2010, it seemed that semifinal results rarely gave men's tennis the final it craved. That changed in 2011, as each Slam semifinal eventually set up the ideal last match. We'll predict that holds true in London, with both Federer and Murray advancing for a showdown at the 02 Arena.
ATP World Tour Final
Federer already fired his warning shot at Murray, taking a subtle shot at the Brit's three fall titles in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai. "I'm not taking anything away from what he did, but was Asia the strongest this year?," Federer asked recently, totally taking away from what Murray did in Asia. "I'm not sure. Novak wasn't there, I wasn't there and Rafa lost early [in Shanghai]." It was pure Federer, nonconfrontational enough to prevent any real repercussions but backhanded enough to remind you he meant it. If this is the final, the ATP will end a memorable 2011 on a fine note and usher in 2012 with a clearer idea of whether Andy Murray is ready to make it a truly "big four," or whether Roger Federer has no intention of fading quietly into the background.