A sudden rise at the end of the season propelled Andy Murray to his first ever year end #1 ranking, and he capped it all off in a showdown with Novak Djokovic, the long time world #1 in the finals of the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals. In a 6-3 6-4 upset, Murray won just his second match of the season against Djokovic as the Serbian continued his late season slide, compared to his usually lofty standards.
Murray finished the year by winning 25 straight matches, a remarkable blitz that included two Masters titles, and six top 10 wins. He’s a fitting world #1 after claiming the Wimbledon title, and the Olympic gold medal this year, along with nine titles overall, and three Masters titles overall, across all of the ATP surfaces. It was quite special to him to be able to clinch the #1 ranking in front of a home crowd in London.
Djokovic finished the year with seven titles, including two Grand Slams and four Masters titles. He found form to defeat David Goffin, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem, and Kei Nishikori in the World Tour Finals. Murray beat Stan Wawrinka, Nishikori, Marin Cilic, and Raonic in a third set tiebreak.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers beat Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in the doubles final. Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray finish the year as the top ranked doubles team, marking the first time brothers have been #1 in doubles and singles, with Andy and Jamie Murray achieving that feat. Nicolas Mahut is the world’s #1 doubles player in his own right.
The ATP top 10 in singles is Murray, Djokovic, Raonic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Cilic, Gael Monfils, Thiem, Rafael Nadal, and Tomas Berdych, marking the first time players from different countries have made up the entire top 10.
Four players, Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric, Karen Khachanov and Taylor Fritz will finish the year inside the top 100 under the age of 21. Meanwhile the ATP continues to be a veteran’s sport, as sixteen players 33 years of age or older are inside the top 100.
2016 ATP World Tour Finals Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final ATP tournament of the season, the year end celebration that is the World Tour Finals, takes place with a field of eight doubles teams, and eight singles players. Here is a look at the field in London with predictions for the final result of the year.
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
London, Great Britain
November 13-20, 2016
Surface: Indoor Hard
Prize Money: $7,500,000
Group 1: Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic
Group 2: Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem
The new world #1 Andy Murray gets the far tougher group as Wawrinka, Nishikori, and Cilic are some of the most dangerous players in the field. World #2 Djokovic is in a group without any Grand Slam winners, and Raonic is probably the second toughest player in the group if he’s healthy.
Group 1 Predictions Murray d. Cilic in 3, Nishikori in 2, Wawrinka in 3 (3-0 in matches, 6-2 in sets) Cilic d. Nishikori in 3, Wawrinka in 3 (2-1 in matches, 5-4 in sets)
Nishikori d. Wawrinka in 3 (1-2 in matches, 3-4 in sets)
Wawrinka 0-3 in matches 3-6 in sets
Murray is on a red hot winning streak, and despite Cilic and Wawrinka likely being able to challenge him, I see him toughing out his matches. Cilic’s strong recent form should propel him to advance from the group, while Wawrinka struggled at the end of the season, and Nishikori looks to be the man in the middle.
Group 2 Predictions Djokovic d. Thiem in 2, Monfils in 2, Raonic in 3 (3-0 in matches, 6-1 in sets) Raonic d. Monfils in 3, Thiem in 2 (Raonic 2-1 in matches, 5-2 in sets)
Thiem d. Monfils in 3 (Thiem 1-2 in matches, 2-5 in sets)
Monfils 0-3 in matches, 2-6 in sets
Djokovic is in a weak group, so despite his recent struggles he should ease past Thiem and Monfils, and also beat Raonic. Presuming Raonic is healthy, he’ll be the favorite against Monfils and Thiem, both of whom struggled at the end of the season, despite being worthy contenders in the WTFs this year. Thiem should finish third in the group with a win over Monfils.
Murray d. Raonic in 2
Djokovic d. Cilic in 3
Murray and Djokovic should be the clear favorites to matchup in the final ATP match of the season.
Murray d. Djokovic in 3
Given Murray is playing better right now, I’m going to pick him to win the World Tour finals at home in London.
Novak Djokovic saw his winning streak since the US Open snapped just before he won 25 straight, in round robin play by Roger Federer, but he rebounded to win two straight matches over Rafael Nadal and Federer to capture his fifth overall and fourth straight World Tour Finals trophy. Djokovic has had a career best season with three Grand Slam titles, six Masters 1000 titles, and now another WTF’s trophy, finishing the season with an 81-6 record, and five of those six losses coming against top 5 players.
Novak rolled over Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych in his first two group matches, as they showed little belief they could overcome the world #1, Federer then shocked him 7-5 6-2, but Djokovic then beat Nadal and Federer without giving up more than four games in any one set, maximizing his game to finish strong.
Federer finishes the year as world #3, behind Andy Murray at #2, though at times he’s shown himself to be the clear #2 player even at 34. The Swiss maestro needed three sets against Nishikori but scored straight set wins over Berdych, and rival Stan Wawrinka along with the 1-1 record against Djokovic. A 63-11 record for the Swiss #1.
Wawrinka beat Andy Murray, and David Ferrer without dropping a set, but was beaten handily by Rafael Nadal along with Federer. He finishes 55-18 with a Grand Slam title and three additional ATP titles to his name, as he continues to perform near his best level at world #4.
Nadal finished the year strong with a 60-20 record overall (16-5 post US Open), and performed well on indoor hard, which is normally a weaker surface for him. It was a tough year at times for Rafa but the Spanish lefty took three titles and beat David Ferrer in three sets, along with Wawrinka, and Murray in the World Tour Finals, three quality wins. Next season Nadal should have every chance to get himself back into the top four after seeing his ranking slip to #5 now.
Rojer/Tecau takes doubles title without dropping a set
In the doubles season finale, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau finish as the world #1 team after they ran a murders row of doubles competitors without dropping a set to win the title. Rojer/Tecau beat Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, and Marcin Matkowski/Nenad Zimonjic before rolling past the Bryan Brothers and Florin Mergea/Rohan Bopanna in the final. Rojer and Tecau illustrate a changing in the guard with world class doubles as the Bryans are beginning to slip with age. Rojer/Tecau finish with three titles on the season.
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.
Semis 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.
Final 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.