The year-ending ATP World Tour Finals will commence on the 13th of November, 2016 in London, and the draws today were announced for the tournament. The top 8 ranked players in the men’s singles qualify for the prestigious year-ending tournament, with Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem filling the final two spots with their performances at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris-Bercy.
But unarguably the biggest news in the tennis world right now is Andy Murray’s new World No. 1 title, one earned as he chipped away systematically at an 8000 point lead on the ATP standings.
Cilic, fresh off a title win at the Swiss Indoors Basel, has been in strong form, pulling off the upset of the tournament as he ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic in Paris-Bercy. The Croat ace’s win also paved the way for Andy Murray to take the ATP top rank, with Murray becoming the first Briton in the Open Era to achieve that feat.
Now, the stage has been set for the final eight to face off against each other in London, and today the draws were announced in the French capital.
The draws below:
Group John McEnroe
Andy Murray 
Stan Wawrinka 
Kei Nishikori 
Marin Ciic 
Group Ivan Lendl
Novak Djokovic 
Milos Raonic 
Gael Monfils 
Dominic Thiem 
The finals are played in the Round Robin format, meaning each player in either group will play the others one time. The top two players from each group will play the semi-finals, with the winner of each playing the deciding finals.
Novak Djokovic is the defending champion in London, but given his recent downswing in form, it would appear that Murray is in fact the favourite to win. Djokovic’s main rival last year had been Roger Federer, and this year it will be Dominic Thiem whom the now No. 2 Serb will play in his opening match in London.
Murray did not perform particularly well at the Finals last year, losing in the round robin stages after winning only one of his matches, meaning he is not defending many points here. Given his 2016 form, however, it is very likely he will win the Finals, or, at the very least, reach the final. Nishikori, for his consistency early in the tennis season – and some stellar performances on clay, has fallen victim to injury on numerous occasions this year.
Wawrinka, despite his immense success at the US Open – and in the tournaments after, is known to be patchy in form, perhaps the antithesis to the singularly consistent Murray. That said, Murray has lost 3 of his last four matches against Wawrinka, so he will not have it as easy as he wishes to – and Cilic could be a strong threat for the player.
Beating Nishikori for his debut Swiss Indoors title, Cilic succeeded in keeping his playing levels up against Novak Djokovic at the Paris-Bercy Masters, and outplayed the uninjured Serb with some aggressive strokeplay and quick forehands; the tall ace could well prove a good challenge to Murray, who is also a relentless attacker from the baseline but can vary his game. The two players have both had strong stamina and a good game of late, giving us a potentially exciting matchup from Group John McEnroe.
Interestingly, Novak Djokovic will handle the group named for Andy Murray’s coach – Ivan Lendl. Djokovic looks to have a fairly easy draw as well; although Raonic has begun the season fairly strongly, he has been patchy with form – also true of Gael Monfils, who famously appeared to bottle his match against eventual runner-up Djokovic at the US Open this year.
Thiem, meanwhile, has cemented his place on the tennis watcher’s radar this year, but has perhaps committed a cardinal sin in not properly scheduling his tournaments this year. Mis-planned strategy suggests that Thiem focussed a significant amount of energy on playing a number of ATP250 tournaments, which although has contributed to his points tally, may also have contributed to fatigue, stress on the body and potential injury.
Murray, now the first British No. 1 in the Open Era, will contest for his first ever World Tour Finals title; he has reached the finals every year since 2008, but has only reached the semi-finals on three occasions, losing to the eventual tournament runner-up each time.
The action will open on the 13th of November 2016, with Djokovic taking on Dominic Thiem.