ATP World Tour Finals 2018: Preview and Analysis
It has been yet another fascinating season on the ATP World Tour where we saw some groundbreaking results from some next-gen stars like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Alex De Minaur and even from some tour veterans like Kevin Anderson and John Isner.
But once again, the limelight and the sport’s biggest prizes were taken by the holy triad - The Big 3 of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
And it is now time for the big finale at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, where the top 8 players of the year will battle it out with each other to end the season in the best possible manner.
Unfortunately, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro have withdrawn from the tournament due to their various injuries, giving Japan’s Kei Nishikori and the big-serving American John Isner the two remaining spots in the glittering field.
So, without further delay, let’s look at the two groups:
Group Guga Kuerten:
Novak Djokovic is the top seed in this group and is pitted against Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and John Isner, which on paper definitely looks like the tougher group of the two, especially given the surface and conditions.
But it still may not be tough enough to stop Novak Djokovic, who, after an epic win against Roger Federer in Paris and Rafael Nadal’s unfortunate withdrawal from the tournament due to an ankle and abdominal injury, is now sitting pretty on the top of the mountain after arguably one of the most unbelievable comebacks, not only in the history of tennis, but in the history of sports, where he became the first man in tennis history to end the year as no. 1 after dropping out of the top 20 in the same season and also the oldest year-end no. 1 ever.
Alexander Zverev may have still not shown his best tennis at the Grand Slams this season, but after a breakout season in 2017, he has still shown great consistency, winning another Masters title in Madrid and will most likely finish the year inside the top 5, which is a remarkable result, especially after great comebacks from Juan Martin Del Porto and Novak Djokovic.
So, if the shoulder injury that hindered him in the Paris Quarter-Final against Khachanov has been dealt with properly, he will be a force to reckon with in London.
Marin Cilic has had a tough season since his victory at Queen’s over Djokovic. He had below-par performances in Wimbledon, Tokyo, Shanghai and Basel.
But he has seemingly rediscovered his start of the season form, with a very good showing in Paris with impressive wins over Kohlschreiber and Dimitrov, and pushing Djokovic to the brink.
He should be feeling pretty good about his game right now and would be looking forward to reversing the results of his last year's showing in London where he was unable to win a match.
John Isner has had the best season of his career, winning his first Masters title in Miami, making the Wimbledon semi-finals and qualifying for the first time here in London.
The big-serving American can beat anybody on his day as he has shown over the years and especially given his favored conditions, he would be looking forward to springing a couple of surprises.
Group Lleyton Hewitt:
Roger Federer is the top seed in this group and has been drawn with Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori.
It looks like the best possible draw for Federer, who has added another remarkable year, winning yet another Grand Slam in Australia.
But since the start of the grass season, all has not gone his way with some strange losses at Wimbledon and US Open. His game has also looked a little vulnerable, especially in Shanghai where he had a tough outing in almost every match he played.
This continued in Basel where he played another couple of rough matches against Krajinovic and Simon, but it got a little better with each outing and he eventually lifted the trophy in his hometown yet again to win an astonishing 99th career title.
Then, he came to Paris and played some of his best tennis since Australia, with an impressive win over Kei Nishikori, and then a 3-hour epic, going toe to toe with Novak Djokovic.
He will be coming into London feeling extremely confident about his game and will be looking forward to some sweet revenge against Kevin Anderson, and in the end, to lift the silverware and capture a historic 100th title to go into his title defense down under in the best possible manner.
Kevin Anderson has had another great season after a showing in his maiden Grand Slam final in New York last year, with a remarkable run to the Wimbledon final and winning his first ATP 500 title in Vienna just a couple of weeks ago.
He will be itching for a great showing in London after narrowly missing out on a spot in last year’s field.
Dominic Thiem has also had a great season, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and improving a lot on hard courts with a first indoor title in St. Petersburg.
He will also be motivated to improve his record at the season-ending finale after a disappointing outing last year.
The comeback player of the year might well be Novak Djokovic, but Kei Nishikori has had a remarkable rise of his own after missing the Australian Open and dropping out of the world’s top 30.
He even played 2 Challengers to get some confidence and slowly had some great results, reaching the US Open semi-final and making the finals of Monte Carlo, Tokyo and Vienna, to come back into the top 10 and is back playing some of his very best tennis.
He will be gunning for a great showing in London after missing out last year due to injury.
Semi-Finals: Novak Djokovic defeats Kei Nishikori
Roger Federer defeats Marin Cilic
The Final: Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer