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ATP Tour Finals Preview

Nikolay Davydenko was triumphant a year ago and this time around we analyse the prospects of another eight hopefuls including Roger Federer going for a fifth Masters Cup.

Nikolay Davydenko - ATP World Tour Final's Champion 2009


Nikolay Davydenko won last year’s Tour Championship to cap a stellar autumn as the season’s finale made its debut in London. The Russian has failed to qualify this year but there will be no shortage of quality as Federer will again try to draw level with Pete Sampras as a five-time winner and Rafael Nadal looks to claim a first title having won three of the four Grand Slams this year.

Key Stats

  • Since 1991, 18/19 Masters Cup winners had reached a final since the US Open with 15 having won.
  • Since 1990, 19/20 winners had competed at the Masters Cup before.
  • 18/20 winners had previously won a Masters title with 14 having won one that year.
  • Since 1995, 13/15 top seeds have reached the semi-finals with six winning.
  • Since 1995, 13/15 winners have been one of the top five seeds.
  • Since 1995 7/15 second seeds have failed to reach the semis.
  • Since 2001, 5/8 Groups that played on the opening day have provided both finalists.
  • Since 1990, 19/28 players that had won their previous event qualified for the semis, including 9/14 whose success had been at Paris with five of those reaching the final and two winning.

Player (Seed, Odds, Spread Price – winner = 50, Runner-up = 25, Semi-Final = 10, else = 0)

Group A 

Rafael Nadal (1, 4, 21-24)

Nadal has had a superb year but has not played in over a month after making an early exit in Shanghai. However, he does fit the profile of past winners having won the Japan Open since his US Open triumph.

The World Number One has W8-L3 against Berdych including winning all seven matches since 2007. He’s also W5-L3 against Roddick including winning five of their last seven matches, although the American won the last time they met earlier this year in Miami. The Spaniard also has a commanding advantage over Djokovic having W15-L7, but on hard courts the Serb has a W7-L3 advantage, including winning both indoor matches.

Nadal has W4-L7 in this tournament and has reached just two finals (one win) from 13 career indoor tournaments.

Novak Djokovic (3, 6, 15-18)

Djokovic is a former winner of this event and while he’s yet to win a Masters this year he has reached two finals since the US Open; losing to Federer in Basel and beating Ferrer in Beijing.

While the Serb has a good hard-court record against Nadal he’s struggled in the past against Roddick as he’s W2-L5 including defeats in all four meetings since 2009, with all their past matches on hard courts. However, he does have a decent record against Berdych having W3-L1, including a comfortable win in Davis Cup in September.

Djokovic struggled with fatigue last year as he lost two of three group matches to go out early but won this event in 2008.

Tomas Berdych (6, 36, 1.5-3)

Berdych is in terrible form having lost 10 of his last 13 matches going back three months. Furthermore, while he’s a former Masters winner (Paris 2005) this will be his debut in this event.

As well as poor records against Nadal and Djokovic the Czech player has W2-L6 against Roddick, including winning just one set in their last four meetings and no sets at all in his last seven attempts against Nadal.

Berdych fits none of the winner’s criteria and will surely do well to win a set this week.

Andy Roddick (8, 23, 6-8)

Roddick was injured for this event a year ago and has only qualified due to the awful second half of the year for Fernando Verdasco. The American has W8-L8 in this tournament previously and three times been a losing semi-finalist. However, he’s not reached a final since Miami at the start of April.

The American has a strong record against Djokovic and Berdych and has won a Masters title this year, but given the closest he’s been to reaching a final since the US open was a semi-final thrashing by Federer in Basel it’d be a major shock if he progressed from the groups.

Group B

Roger Federer (2, 3.5, 23-26)

Federer probably should have won Paris, but given his previous awful record there a semi-final was somewhat of an improvement. In fact his form since Wimbledon has been superb as he’s reached 7/7 semi-finals and five finals with three victories.

The Swiss Maestro has won 14 of 16 past matches with Soderling, including comprehensive wins at the US Open and then in Shanghai. He also has a perfect W11-L0 record against Ferrer, including dropping just one set in five matches on hard courts. However, he’s lost nine of 13 matches against Murray since 2006, including nine of 11 outside Grand Slams, and was beaten in straight sets in the Rogers Cup and Shanghai Masters finals this year.

His W29-L7 record in this tournament dwarfs everyone else’s records but he hasn’t reached the final since 2007.

Robin Soderling (4, 10, 8-11)

Agonisingly missed out on the final here 12 months ago when beaten in a final set tie-break by Del Potro in the semi but won the recent Paris Masters and this is his best surface.

The Swede has W2-L2 against Murray although they’ve played just once since 2006 with Soderling winning in straight sets in Indian Wells earlier this year. Familiarity wont be an issue against Ferrer as this will be their sixth meeting since Wimbledon, with Soderling having won four of those matches and leading W8-L4 overall.

Soderling fits every single criterion to be the winner this week including being part of the group that plays on the opening day.

Andy Murray (5, 6.75, 12-15)

Murray was unlucky do go out in the group stage a year ago after winning two of his matches and the previous year he won all three group games before losing in the semis.

The Scot has failed to back up his seeding in five of his last six tournaments but has won two hard court Masters since Wimbledon. While he has dominated Federer in the past he did lose to him here a year ago and he’s also lost three of four previous matches with Ferrer, although all those defeats were on clay and he won their only hard-court meeting back in 2006.

The Scot also fits the winner’s profile, although as it has for much of this year his form remains worryingly inconsistent.

David Ferrer (8, 60, 1.5-3)

Ferrer reached the final the last time he qualified for this event and has been consistently good all year. Five finals and numerous semis show how well he’s played in 2010 and he recently won indoors in Valencia.

However, he’s never won a Masters title and a record of W7-L21 since 2009 against the current top 10 including W3-L12 on hard courts suggests he will struggle to get out of a tough group.

Our View

Group A looks to be a straight fight between Djokovic and Nadal with the Serb’s good recent form probably helping to correct his poor record against Roddick and Berdych unlikely to trouble any of them. Given Djokovic’s superior record indoors and head-to-head against Nadal the Serb looks the best value to win the group.

Meanwhile Group B should be two of the top three, although Ferrer probably offers a greater chance of a shock than Berdych does in the other group. Given the average record of second seeds in this event and Murray’s dominance over Federer, both the Scot and Soderling look better value than Federer at the moment, although this could well come down to games won and lost.

Recommendations: 0.5pt Group A Forecast – Nadal 1st, Djokovic 2nd at 3.8, Paddy Power                                               0.5pt Djokovic to win all three group matches at 4.5, Sky Bet
                                      Soderling to win Group B e/w at 6.0, Sporting Bet


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