What a difference twelve months can make. Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem are the only players from the 2016 Finals to have qualified again for 2017. Injuries have plagued a significant number of players at the summit of the ATP rankings, paving the way for no fewer than 4 of the 8 finalists to earn direct qualification for the first time this November. Let’s take a look at who we can expect to do well at the O2 in a few days time. We’re not tipping anyone up this time just giving you the ammunition needed for your outright bets.
Does ranking matter?
The following table shows how historically a player’s ranking heading into the World Tour Finals impacts upon their performance at the tournament. Results extend back to 2009 when London first hosted the finals which saw Russian iceman, Nikolay Davydenko, win the biggest title of his career.
Please note: Rankings were taken as highest to lowest appearing at the ATP World Tour Finals e.g. if a player ranked 5th withdraws prior to the tournament, the 6th ranked player would take his place.
*W = winner, RU = runner-up, S = semi-finals, RR = round-robin
Only once since 2011 has the final not been contested between the top two players in the world, and therefore a mouthwatering Fedal final could be on the cards yet again in 2017 (much to the delight of many nostalgic tennis fans). However, there are huge question marks over Nadal’s fitness having pulled out of the Paris Masters last week, citing a recurrence of his problematic knee injury.
Crawling to the finish line?
Alexander Sascha Zverev has had somewhat of a breakthrough year in 2017, amounting an impressive 5 ATP titles and earning nearly $4 million in prize money. No doubt he’ll be delighted to have made the ATP finals for the first time… however, the German underachieved in both Vienna and Paris with an array of despondent performances. His normal exuberant self has been absent recently – possibly signs of the youngster running out of steam towards the end of the season. It would be foolish to assume these dejected performances will be seen again at the O2 for one of the biggest tournaments of the year.
Like Zverev, Thiem has also struggled since qualifying for London. The Austrian might still be having nightmares post-US Open where he let a two-set lead slip against Del Potro. Thiem’s season has been built on a fantastic clay-court swing where the slow speed of the dirt gave him time to wind up and fully utilise his heavy groundstrokes. Hard courts simply don’t allow him enough time to do this, and so seeing Thiem progress through the round-robin stage would be a surprise.
Gatecrashing the Fedal Party
Dimitrov and Cilic have had very solid seasons. Both players have won 86% of their service games in 2017 and will be very dangerous if they can maintain those kind of numbers. Dimitrov, who pushed Nadal the distance in Shanghai and Beijing, has had a strong end to the year having experienced a considerable blip during the summer. Expect Dimitrov and Cilic to make a positive impact during the round-robin stage.
In 7th place is David Goffin. Back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo saw Goffin play some inspired hard court tennis, showcasing his impeccable timing and lightning speed around the court. However, there are still major question marks over his ability to beat the world’s best – doubters citing a lack of weaponry to hit through his opponents.
Very, very late to the party is Paris champion Jack Sock. Sock’s huge game, based around a heavy serve and booming forehand, will be dangerous to any player at the O2. On his way to the Paris title Sock’s nothing-to-lose attitude allowed him to swing freely. With little genuine expectations on his shoulders here, the American might well be a surprise threat.