Novak Djokovic will start his bid for the 2018 ATP World Tour Finals against the American No. 1 John Isner in the robin-round.
Djokovic has been nothing short of exceptional this season. The Serbian won four major titles to take back the No. 1 rankings as he now looks to further consolidate that lead. Isner, on the other hand, has had a pretty decent season himself and now, he finds himself competing in one of the most significant tournaments on the ATP Tour.
Djokovic v Isner Head to Head
Djokovic and Isner have faced each other a total of 10 times on the tour so far. The Serbian holds an 8-2 lead over his American adversary and has won five of their last six encounters. Interestingly, the two players haven’t met since 2015 ATP Beijing. Back then, they competed in the quarterfinal and it was Djokovic who got the win 6-2, 6-2.
Isner’s Entry into the Top 10
Isner’s win-loss record as of Paris Masters stood at 34-19. While he hasn’t been that efficient on the tour this year, he has still managed to exceed expectations and break into the top 10 for the first time in his career.
The American has won only two titles this season, both of which came in the United States. His first title was the Miami Masters – a tournament he won after defeating the likes of Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev.
Prior to coming to Miami, Isner lost in the early rounds of all of his preceding events. However, after his clinical performance in the Masters, he gained confidence and moved on to perform better on the tour.
He reached the quarterfinals in a couple of tournaments like ATP Houston, Madrid Masters, and ATP Lyon. Isner had another breakthrough in Wimbledon when he reached the semifinal there, only to lose to Kevin Anderson. Nonetheless, that sensational run, coupled with a winning performance in ATP Atlanta, propelled him to his career-high singles ranking at World No. 8.
He also made it to the quarterfinal in the US Open and semifinal in the ATP Stockholm. Isner missed out on qualifying for the tournament by a narrow margin. However, he received a ticket to London when Juan Martin Del Potro withdrew from the tournament on account of an injury. This is also set to be his first appearance in the ATP Finals London.
Djokovic’s Rise to Prominence Again
The Serbian started the season outside of top 10 but he managed to turn it all around on the back of a superb performance on the ATP Tour. He started the season on a rather rocky note – he didn’t have much success in the Australian Open, Miami Masters, or Indian Wells.
It wasn’t until the start of the clay season that he found his rhythm. Even though it was far from perfect, Djokovic was still resilient to get back to the top. He reached the fourth round in Monte-Carlo Masters and semifinals in the Italian Open. He also made it to the quarterfinal in French Open where he lost to Marco Cecchinato. By this time, he had slipped out of the top 20.
He had a staged an extraordinary comeback on the grass surface. He was the runner-up in ATP London and soon, he followed it with a winning run in the Wimbledon. Thereafter, it became evident that it is going to be difficult to stop Djokovic from reaching the top.
Soon after Wimbledon, he won the Cincinnati Masters, US Open, and Shanghai Masters. The 4,000 ranking points he accumulated here helped him reach the World No. 3 position. That also helped him secure a qualification for the ATP Finals London.
Despite losing in the final of Paris Masters to Karen Khachanov, he became the World No. 1 owing to Rafael Nadal’s early withdrawal from the tournament. With four titles and a win-loss record of 49-11, he is now one of the favorites to win in London.
Between the two players, it is quite clear that Djokovic has the clear edge here. He is in form and is entering the tournament with a great deal of momentum. He also has a psychological advantage of Isner in terms of the head-to-head tally. It will take a lot for the American to deliver an upset early in the tournament.