It has been a Gruelling ATP season and right now it’s more like we are entering the 12th round of a boxing match than a Tennis event. After 11 months of battling each other around the world, the extremely lucrative O2 event comes with many ranking points to boot and these guys should be going all out for it, carrying knocks or not it will be survival of the fittest next week.
With Fish limping off court in Paris, Djokovic complaining about his shoulder, Nadal missing all events after his awful showing in Asia and Andy Murray having a brand new injury every time he loses, the key this week will be determining who is actually hurt and who is in the best position to win, what is, a very notable crown.
Federer 21/10 – Boylesports
Has peaked at exactly the right time. After a disappointing season by his standards – no grand slams and only 3 ATP tittles – Roger Federer is going to be going for the jugular. He comes in, having just won Basel (again) and the Paris 1000, both indoors, and looking in good form. However the price for me is all wrong. He was available at 7-2 even after he won the Paris final. People have just piled into him, as he’s the form player and considering his draw the price is way too short to back. He faces Nadal, who he has a mental block against (albeit Nadal is an unknown commodity this week) and Tsonga in the groups. Tsonga having some serious joy against him in recent meetings and Rogers victory last week was aided by Tsongas marathon semi with Isner 12 hours prior. He has every reason to contend but I couldn’t back him at this price.
Mentally frail. After winning 3 tournaments in a row on the Asian swing and playing sublime tennis, his performance in Paris summed up Murray. With conditions in his favour (painfully slow court) he managed to lose to Berdych, blaming everything he could apart from himself. Once again, where champions stand up in face of adversity and find a way to get through, Murray looks for excuses and claims injury or blames something else (last week the balls and his hamstring). With the best draw he could have asked for Andy should walk to the semi finals, but I question his mental strength and don’t think he has enough to win, even in front of a ‘home’ crowd.
Mr. 2011, the man who has had an incredible year, comes in as 3rd favourite?! Novak has been accused in the past of being a cry baby and someone that plays up to an injury and these accusations are not without good reason. I am not convinced he is as injured as the market suggests. Why he even played Basle was beyond me, and looked very mortal as he dropped sets to Malisse and Bagdahtis before losing to the up and coming Nishakori. Everyone knew why he showed up for Paris and he collected his £1.2 million and withdrew, to rest up for the finals. He has been blessed with the easier group and is the last man on court, I think that shoulder is strong enough to justify a 9/2 shot, that would have been about 2/1 if played around US open time.
Who knows what to expect from Rafa. The man has not been seen since an appalling display in Asia, losing to Mayer and looking very unimpressive against some seriously average players. A break in my opinion was clearly what Rafa needed; an extraordinarily long season, in which he consistently found himself second best to Djokovic clearly took its toll on this great champion. The surface won’t help Nadal, as it is certainly not his favourite and far more suited to others in the game. But he is not to be written off, especially with his edge on Federer, although what he has over Federer, Djokovic has over him.
Not without hope but justifiably an outsider. Really tough group for the explosive Frenchman, who was recently, denied Paris glory. He is looking fit and ready at this stage of the season and that cannot be said about most of the 8. He was the 1st man to beat Federer from 2 sets down at Wimbledon and has to be taken seriously in his group, with a Nadal that could be below par and Federer that he knows he can beat, there is no reason why he couldn’t make the semi’s and from there anything could happen.
A good run in Paris, beating Murray and will need to do that again here. I can’t see him being a threat; the man has a poor 2nd serve and is a big hitter that will need to have one of his great days every day. Too often with Berdych his big shots miss and his 1st serve % isn’t high enough and he subsequently goes out. He isn’t a contender here for me.
As endearing as the Spaniard is, he cannot possibly win this event. His serve is not at the same level as any of these guys and he really does need the slow clay that he can out-grind his opponent with. His fitness and effort levels are second to none, but indoors is far too quick for him and the others will be able to push him further and further back, pressuring his every service game.
Was last seen limping off court in agony a week ago and has openly said that he will play the event regardless of weather he is fit or not. It sounds to me like he is going to pick up a pay cheque and not here for the right reasons. Really difficult to see Mardy doing anything after a quite remarkable US hard court swing.
Djokovic 3.5 pts @9/2 – If he is not as injured as everyone has suggests then this price is massive. Easy group, final event of the year and chance to cap off his season perfectly, he is the value for me.
Tsonga 0.5 pts @22/1 – Capable of beating Federer and making the semi’s, while its very unlikely he is the only outsider capable of making a stand.
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