ATP Finals 2019 Draw Preview: Favourite Djokovic to Take on Federer in Group Stage, Nadal, Medvedev to Face off Again

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After a grueling and exhilarating season that had more highlights than a tennis fan could have asked for, it is almost time for the ATP Tour Finals as the season moves to its final destination, at the O2 arena in London. The tournament involves the top eight men for the current season divided into two groups in a round robin format with the top two from each group playing the semi-finals with the winners then meeting in the finals.

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With the draw being released in London earlier today, this year the groups have been named after Andre Agassi, who won the 1990 season finale when the tournament was held in Frankfurt, and Bjorn Borg who won the 1979 and 1980 titles at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Group Bjorn Borg features five-time ATP Tour Finals winner Novak Djokovic, six-time winner Swiss maestro Roger Federer, fourth time participant Dominic Thiem, and new entrant Matteo Berrettini.

Group Andre Agassi features the newly crowned world number one Rafael Nadal, defending ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev, 2018 Next Gen Tour Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, and arguably the best ‘Next Gen’ player of the year Daniil Medvedev.

Group Bjorn Borg

Djokovic who won the title four years in a row between 2012-2015 has had another stellar year winning five titles, i.e. the Australian Open, Wimbledon, Madrid Masters, Paris Masters and the Tokyo ATP 500.

The Serb has been number one throughout the year until this week, with Rafael Nadal taking over as number one this Monday. Given his success at the tournament, on the surface, and this season, the Serb begins as the favorite for a sixth title and a sixth year end as the number one player in the world.

Six-time winner Federer has had his fair share of success at the tournament, but has not won since 2011, despite being in the finals in 2012,2014 and 2015.

At 38 years of age, the Swiss continues to be ranked number three in the world. Federer has had another strong year winning four titles; the Miami Masters 1000, and ATP 500 titles at Dubai, Halle and Basel. The Swiss will nevertheless rue his missed opportunity at Wimbledon, serving for the championship against Novak Djokovic with two match points.

While on paper and surface, Djokovic and Federer begin as the favorites to make the semi-finals from Group Borg, neither Thiem nor Berrettini can be counted out.

Thiem, a two time French Open finalist and a proven force on clay has met with success on the faster hard and indoor courts this year, defeating Roger Federer in the finals of the Indian Wells Masters 1000, as well as winning the ATP 500 indoors in Vienna, and the China Open in Beijing.

The Austrian has never gone past the round robin stages at the Tour Finals and will be looking to overcome this hurdle this time around.

The last spot this year went to young Italian Berrettini who has a very strong second half of the year, being a semi-finalist at the US Open, as well as at the ATP Masters 1000 in Shanghai and at the ATP 500 in Vienna. With a powerful game suited to the faster surfaces the young Italian is capable of pulling off some unexpected results against the bigger names on the tour.

Group Andre Agassi

Nadal, who was just crowned world number one this week, has been a two-time finalist in 2010 and 2013, but the Tour Finals remains the one title that continues to elude him, due to a mix of reasons ranging from injuries due to wear and tear by this time in the season, as well as the faster indoor surfaces not suiting him as well as it does some of the others.

But, having managed his schedule better to enhance his longevity on the tour and adjusted his game to better suit the faster surfaces, the Spaniard will hope this is his year. Nadal pulled out of the Paris Masters semi-finals last week due to an injury sustained during warm-up, but reports seem to suggest that the injury was nothing of concern and he should be ready to go next week.

The other three members of Group Andre Agassi are Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, all earmarked as the future of the sport and members of what is commonly referred to as the ‘Next Gen’.

Defending champion Zverev has had a difficult year winning only one title at the ATP 250 in Geneva, as it has been a year of disappointing early losses and off-court issues for the German.

However, a turnaround in the latter part of the season with promising performances at the China Open and Shanghai Masters ensured he claimed the seventh spot and with it an opportunity to defend his title. While he may not begin as one of the favorites, the German knows what it takes to win here as he has shown last year, raising his level when needed to defeat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and finals respectively.

Young Russian Medvedev has had a phenomenal year, playing six consecutive ATP finals, winning Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, as well as playing a memorable five setter against Rafael Nadal in the US Open final. The Russian has also defeated Novak Djokovic twice this year, and despite complaining of fatigue towards the end of the season, Medvedev has been in sublime touch in the latter half of the year and will definitely be a force to reckon with.

2018 Next Gen Finals winner Tsitsipas is another member of Next Gen who has had a strong season defeating all members of the Big Three, adding to his ATP title bag, being an Australian Open semi-finalist and after a mid-season dip in form, recovering well during the Asian and indoor swing to make the semi-finals and finals of ATP 500 and Masters tournaments.

While the Greek may not be as settled or consistent as some of his peers, like Medvedev and Thiem, he definitely has proven himself capable of defeating any and all of the contenders in London.

While Nadal and Medvedev seem like the ones to make the semi-finals from Group Agassi, with players like Zverev and Tsitsipas in the fray, that group makes it a more difficult one to pick from and predict than Group Borg.

The first six days of the tournament can be expected to pull many a surprise and any of the eight could potentially make the final four for the final weekend of the season. With a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty to look forward to, a tennis fan will be delighted as that is precisely what would make for a phenomenal end to another spectacular year on the ATP calendar.

While it is hard to make predictions when the margins are so tight, a repeat of the Wimbledon final may very well be on the cards yet once again.

ATP World Tour Finals 2019 Prediction

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About Samir Talwar 838 Articles
Samir is a New York based Wall Street credit analyst, who is always ready to get into analytical discussions on the men’s tennis circuit. He loves his tennis & cricket.

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