2k9 has most definitely been a year of firsts in the tennis world, and in a few days, that streak will continue, as the World Tour Finals (WTF) will make it's debut in London at the O2 Arena. The draws were released yesterday, and heading into this year's event, the field is wiiiiiddddeeee open.
Just to clarify, the top two performers in each round robin group will advance. The number 1 from group A will take on the number 2 from group B, and the number 1 from group B will face the number 2 from A.
Juan Martin del Potro
Mr. Fed has had himself qute a year, breaking the GS title record, making Mirka his wifey and having twinnies, but these last couple months have been quite lackluster from the Swiss star. After failing to defend both the US Open and Swiss Indoors titles, losing in the finals to JMDP and Novak Djokovic respectively, FedEx suffered a huge upset at the hands of Julien Benneteau (who?) at the Paris Masters last week. Adding the world number 1's dismal recent records against Murray and DelPo, the 2009 WTF's are gonna be a tough one for Rog. Andy Murray was upset by Radek Stepanek in Paris, but triumphed in Valencia the week before, a victory that is sure to boost the Scot's confidence heading into just his 2nd ever year-ending championship. Murray has a 17-5 record against his counterparts in group A. JMDP is still a baby, standing tall as the youngest player in the field, at 6'6 to be exact. He shocked the world and took the US Open trophy a few months ago, but has ceased to live up to the expectations that were casted on the Argentine following his victory, failing to make a quarterfinal in his last 3 events. But.....you never know what that monster forehand will do to ya. And lastly comes Verdasco, with nothing to lose and a whole lot to win. The OTHER lefty Spaniard has reached at least the round of 16 at every GS this year, but recently, Nando's results have not impressed.
I know we all can't wait for Fed/Murray, but the other matchups that will occur in this group will also bring the drama.
Semifinalists: Murray and Federer
Novak Djokovic is the favorite in this group, coming in with an 18-1 record since the Open, having won 3 of his last 4 events. The defending WTF champion took out both Soderling and Nadal last week in Bercy en route to the title, and beat Fed the week before. He has a tour leading 5 titles, and has played nothing but dynamite recently, but we all know what a little thing called fatigue, mental or physical, can do to the Serb. Rafa might just need a miracle to be victorious at the WTF for the first time. After all, the Spaniard has lost to each of his group b peers his last time playing them, and he hasn't won a tournament since early May. After being crushed in the semis of Paris last week, the world number 2's confidence will be at a low, but El Matador could possibly have something up his nike tennis sleeve, now that he wears them, this week. Davydenko has just been Davydenko this year, dominating at the 500 level tournaments and bailing out of the Masters and Slams in the late stages. He has brought his best tennis to the courts this fall, having won the Shanghai Masters and the Malaysian Open recently. But we can't overlook his ups and downs, losing in the opening round at the Kremlin Cup a few weeks ago. And Soderling, the lucky duck of the group, should be thanking Andy Roddick for withdrawing, giving the Swede a ticket to his first ever WTF. Soderling has had a breakout year, reaching the final at the French and falling to Federer in the later rounds at Wimbledon and the US Open. Sod has produced his best results on hard courts, making this group an exciting one to watch.
Djokovic doesn't seem like he can be stopped right now, and Nadal has not been able to return to top form. Soderling and Davydenko have had their ups and downs, but are both capable of making a deep run.
Semifinalists: Djokovic and Davydenko
Semifinals: Djokovic def. Federer, Davydenko def. Murray
Finals: Djokovic def. Davydenko