The topsy-turvy 2020 season comes to a conclusion at the Nitto ATP Finals, which features the year's eight most successful players. Naturally, that group includes the legendary Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, as well as reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Previewing the 2020 edition of the ATP Tour finals, former British No. 1 Greg Rusedski gave his predictions about the various possibilities of the tournament - in particular, the prospects of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Big ask for Rafael Nadal to win the Nitto ATP Finals: Greg Rusedski
Rusedski, who participated in the ATP Finals back in 1997 and 1998, claimed that Rafael Nadal will be a factor at the tournament despite the fact that the conditions don't suit him.
"I still think he can be dangerous but I think it will be a big ask for him (Rafael Nadal) to win," Rusedski said.
The Spaniard has won only one tournament on indoor hardcourts, at Madrid back in 2004. He has never managed to lift the trophy at the ATP Finals despite participating on nine separate occasions.
Injuries, lack of fitness and inability to cope with the speed of the courts have all led to Rafael Nadal's failures on the surface. This year is his final chance to win the event at the O2 Arena in London, where he reached the final in 2010 and 2013; the event will be shifted to the Italian city of Turin from 2021.
"I think the court speed and the balls are just a little bit too quick and the other guys are playing better than him indoors," Rusedski added. "It is still a big ask to beat Rafael Nadal."
Novak Djokovic is going to want to re-establish himself: Rusedski
Unlike Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic has been a mainstay at the event for over a decade. Djokovic won his first title all the way back in 2008 and has won four more titles since, and Rusedski talked up the Serb's chances this year.
"I think he is fresh now. His main goal was to get to number one – he did that. He had that little dip in Vienna and didn’t play in Paris," the Brit said.
Novak Djokovic has etched his name into the history books with his 6th year-end World No. 1 achievement, which ties the record with Pete Sampras. The Serb is also on course to usurp Roger Federer as the men's player with the most weeks spent as World No. 1; he currently stands at 294 weeks, and should be able to take over from Federer if he stays in his current ranking position till mid-March.
Rusedski did mention, however, that Pete Sampras' feat was superior to Novak Djokovic's because he did it in consecutive years.
"To get six year-end number ones is a phenomenal accomplishment, only Pete Sampras has done that. Pete’s accomplishment is still ahead of Novak’s because Pete did it six years in a row," the former World No. 4 went on.
Another piece of history is on the line in London for Novak Djokovic. He could equal Roger Federer's record of six ATP Finals trophies by winning this year, which Rusedski believes will be a driving force for the Serb.
"I think Novak Djokovic is going to want to re-establish and tie the record of six with Federer," Rusedski said.
"But I think he is going to be motivated because he hasn’t won it in a long time and whether you like it or not these guys want records. Federer, Djokovic and (Rafael) Nadal want to go down with the most Slams, the most ATP Finals wins, the most Masters wins, that is what drives these three incredible legends of the game," he added.