Weekly Slice: The 2009 men's season ends with a top-spot showdown

First serve
London is gearing up for the final showdown of the ATP season, and all the talk is about the battle for top spot. Even the inclusion of British favorite Andy Murray in the eight-man field for the ATP World Tour Finals can't distract from the fight for the No.1 ranking that will be played out between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Despite being injured for much of the summer and missing Wimbledon, Nadal still has the opportunity to finish the year ahead of the pack by winning the tournament and hoping Federer slips up. Yet as 2009 draws to a close in men's tennis, it is impossible to shake the sense that this year has merely been the appetizer for what could be a spectacular 2010.

Coming into this season, we all eagerly anticipated that the Federer-Nadal rivalry would heat up further, especially with Federer's mononucleosis condition controlled and overcome. However, Nadal's knee problems prevented them from meeting at the French Open and kept the Spaniard out until his return just before the U.S. Open, when he was still way short of full fitness.

If both the big guns can go into the new campaign at their peak, it will pave the way for a superb year.

Also working his way in the mix is Novak Djokovic, who finally seems to have his motivation levels right and at last is poised to challenge the top two on a regular basis. Murray will look to improve on his disappointing performances at the major championships, and Juan Martin del Potro also has the ability to grow upon his U.S. Open triumph.

If all these stars are fit and healthy, then they will push Federer and Nadal to even greater achievements and allow one of modern sport's most intriguing head-to-head matchups to flourish.

Drop shot
Andre Agassi has received confirmation that he will not be censured for his admitted use of crystal meth during his playing career. ATP president Adam Helfant revealed that his organization is powerless to punish Agassi retroactively as he is no longer playing. Instead, he is free to make extra money from the revelations in his autobiography "Open," effectively being rewarded for the lies he told to cover up his drug use in the late 1990s.

Clean winner
The USTA's annual participation survey showed surprisingly buoyant results, revealing more than 30 million active players now in the United States. The figures were up 12 percent from 2008 and also showed increased numbers across all minority groups.

Use your frequent flyer miles
It is a good time of year to be in London. Christmas songs are already blaring from every radio station, and Oxford Street is a great place to snap up some festive gifts. Then there is the small matter of the ATP World Tour Finals, where Federer and Nadal slug it out for the top ranking while Andy Murray tries to please his home crowd.

This week's predictions
ATP World Tour Finals (singles): Roger Federer
ATP World Tour Finals (doubles): Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic

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