2015 ATP World Tour Finals Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final ATP tournament of the season is the Final Showdown in London where the top 8 players this season will battle on indoor hard courts, in matches that could set the tone for the 2016 ATP season that will begin in just over a month’s time.
ATP World Tour Finals
November 15-November 22, 2015
Prize Money: $7,000,000
Stan Smith Group
1: Novak Djokovic
3: Roger Federer
6: Tomas Berdych
8: Kei Nishikori
World #1 Novak Djokovic won three Grand Slams this season, and six Masters, enters the World Tour Finals as a clear favorite to take his fifth title in tournament. Djokovic has won four straight World Tour Finals events, and after a dominant fall season that saw him drop just one set in fifteen matches, he should be able to extend his winning streak in London.
Roger Federer looks to be Djokovic’s only challenge in this group, as he enters the Final Showdown with a 59-10 record on the season and six ATP titles, including a Masters title. Federer is 8-2 this Fall and an early exit in Paris may be just what he needed to recharge his batteries and prep himself for this tournament as a six-time Champion (including twice in London).
I would expect Federer and Djokovic to both win their matches over Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori. Berdych is 57-19 this year with two titles, his best season ever in terms of win total, but he’s been an inconsistent 12-4 this fall and doesn’t match-up well recently with the Serbian or the Swiss. Nishikori is 53-14 on the season with three titles but he’s struggled this Fall and hasn’t been healthy, thus I’d be surprised if he won a match in the group.
Smith Group Predictions
Djokovic d. Federer, Berdych, and Nishikori in 2 sets
Federer d. Berdych in 2 sets, and Nishikori in 3 sets
Berdych d. Nishikori in 2 sets
Djokovic and Federer advance to the semifinals.
Ilie Năstase Group
2: Andy Murray
4: Stan Wawrinka
5: Rafael Nadal
7: David Ferrer
Home favorite Andy Murray has posted a fantastic 68-12 campaign this season and he’s far from finished as he has this tournament, and then the Davis Cup final against Belgium looming after that. The Brit took home four titles this season (including one Masters) and has only lost to Djokovic (x2) post US Open for a 9-2 record. Thus he should be prepared to do well here with fan support behind him, but the question is, will he want to rest up for the more important DC final.
Stan Wawrinka went 53-16 with three ATP titles and a Grand Slam this season as the veteran Swiss has cemented himself as a threat to the top players on tour, and part of the new “Big Four” (or “Big Five” if you still include Nadal). Wawrinka isn’t always consistent but with his lethal backhand and a 12-3 record post US Open he’s certainly a contender in London. His match with Murray will prove critical (Wawrinka has won the last two meetings), as to who gets out of this group.
The Murray vs. Wawrinka match is key because Rafael Nadal has caught fire this Fall and looks to be the other qualifier, whichever spot he claims in the standings. Rafa went 57-19 with three ATP titles this season and secured his Tour Finals participation with a 13-4 record post US Open. Nadal struggled at times this season but his game is markedly improved in recent weeks, and he appears to be putting together the form needed to get him off to a hot start in 2016. Nadal split meetings with Wawrinka this Fall, is 2-1 on indoor hard vs. Murray, and leads the final group participant David Ferrer 23-6 in their all-time h2h, as Nadal is generally superior to his fellow Spaniard.
Ferrer went 53-13 this season with five ATP titles as he continues to function as an under the radar battler at 33 years old, and a player who maximizes his natural talent and skill to excel. Ferrer is 15-3 this Fall and is also playing well, making this the toughest group to be in. He could well qualify and has a chance at an upset in any of his three matches, but given his peak level he’s still the underdog in this group by far.
Năstase Group Predictions
Nadal d. Ferrer in 2, and Wawrinka in 3
Murray d. Ferrer in 2, and Nadal in 3
Wawrinka d. Murray in 3, Ferrer in 3
Nadal and Murray advance to the semifinals via the number of sets won tiebreaker.
Djokovic d. Murray in 2
Federer d. Nadal in 3
Djokovic has won two straight against Murray, and dominates the h2h overall, I don’t see anyone being able tos top him in London, unless Wawrinka is able to face him. Federer won his only meeting with Nadal this Fall in Basel, it was a nip and tuck three setter, and I see Fed having an advantage on this surface in their rivalry.
Djokovic d. Federer in 2
Djokovic is 4-2 against Federer this season, and look for him to make that 5-2 as he should be able to continue to buzzsaw the competition. Federer is at times his most dangerous opponent but Djokovic has been at a level above recently.
World Tour Finals Doubles
The World Tour Finals doubles teams in the Ashe/Smith Group are Bob and Mike Bryan, Jamie Murray/John Peers, Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini, and Rohan Bopanna/Florin Mergea. In the Fleming/McEnroe group is Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau, Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, and Marcin Matkowski/Nenad Zimonjic.
The defending champion Bryans, the greatest doubles specialist tandem of all-time, have six ATP titles this season (three of them are Masters titles), and they have four career World Tour finals crowns. It’s been a relatively down year for them at 42-14 but the 37 year old brothers have yet to show signs of a serious decline. Peers/Murray have two titles together this season as it’s been a breakthrough year for them as doubles specialists.
Fognini/Bolelli are the only singles focused pairing to make the Finals as a doubles team, they won the Australian Open at the start of the season together and have combined their fiery games and personalities to have success. The 35 year old Bopanna continues to represent Indian tennis with tremendous class and has two ATP titles this year (including one Masters) with his partner Mergea of Romania.
Rojer/Tecau are bidding to be the new #1 team in the world, as they won two titles together this season, including Wimbledon. Tecau is the other half of Romania’s doubles success, while Rojer is by far the most successful Dutch tennis player in recent years. Marcelo Melo is the current #1 ranked doubles player, and his veteran partner Ivan Dodig joins him in their own bid for world #1. Dodig used to have more success in singles but he’s trending towards becoming a doubles specialist. Melo/Dodig have three titles together this season including the French Open.
The 24 year old Herbert is the youngest tour finals qualifier, and he’s won two titles this season with his veteran compatriot Mahut, including the US Open. Herbert continues to improve in singles, and his big serving game is a good fit with Mahut’s throwback serve and volley, as the veteran Frenchman’s singles career is winding down. Lastly 39 year old Nenad Zimonjic is the oldest Tour Finals qualifier, and though he and his partner Marcin Matkowski have no titles to their name this season, Zimonjic has over 650 wins, and 53 titles in his career, as the Serbian knows how to win. Be sure to watch his doubles prowess before he calls it a career.
Tennis Atlantic hopes everyone enjoys the World Tour Finals action, and it’s been a pleasure providing you with coverage of the ATP World Tour for yet another exciting season of world-class tennis. Our full ATP coverage will continue next year.