World Tour Finals 2016
The final tournament of the year sees the top 8 players on the ATP tour come to London for a showdown of epic proportions: at stake, the year end no 1.
John McEnroe Group
Few would argue that Murray has found himself in the harder group here. Nishikori and Cilic have both beaten him recently and Wawrinka beat him at this tournament last year. Indeed, Murray’s record here doesn’t inspire – he has never made the final of the WTF. Despite all this, he is the bookies’ favourite. Why? Well, first and foremost, he has just become the world no 1. He is on a great run of form, winning titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris. He is clearly playing well indoors this year and, apparently, the courts in Paris and London are playing faster than in recent years, which will give him a boost. Murray has all the inspiration in the world to win here. If he does, he secures the year end no 1 in front of his home fans, erasing his bad memories of this tournament. But is he a good bet? Betfair are offering the highest odds at 2.37:1. This isn’t especially inviting. Furthermore, when one takes a look at his recent results one can find question marks. He has shown incredible stamina, but how much can he have left in the tank? Especially after three tough looking group matches? Furthermore, somewhat incredibly, he didn’t have to beat a Top 10 player in any of those four tournaments. Can he now beat five Top 10 players in a row?
All of the other players in this group will have their chances of progressing. Of the three, Cilic has the best recent form and Nishikori, who lost to the Croat in the final of Basel, arguably the worst. US Open Champion Wawrinka has done little since New York but we know he loves the big occasions like London.
Ivan Lendl Group
Djokovic has not been physically at his best in recent weeks and he will be relieved to find himself in a group where he can say the same for his opponents. Raonic, Monfils and Thiem have all suffered with injury and/or fatigue recently and, in all honesty, I can’t see them as a collective group preventing Novak from reaching the semi-finals. Djokovic has always played well here and is likely to improve match by match. In some way his loss of the world no 1 position may have been something of a blessing. Where previously his position as world no 1 at the end of the year seemed a foregone conclusion by this stage of the year, instead he finds himself with something to fight for. I imagine that it could be something of a relief to play in a tournament where he is not the favourite to win. Betfair and Unibet are offering odds of 2.5:1. This price would have been grabbed a few months ago, showing how much things have changed. But have they? There is no evidence that Novak is playing with an injury and every chance that he has been saving himself for a final push to the finish line.
Longer odds: Wawrinka always strikes when least expected. He likes playing here and we know that he can beat anyone on his day. Odds of 13:1 from Betfair, in an 8 man tournament, for a current Slam champion and world no 3, are definitely worth taking.