November 14, 2015

London Preview: The Best of the Best

We're just hours away from the start of this year's ATP Championships, and while we certainly have an idea of who the favorites might be, there's a lot of ball to be played before the title is given away. And with the best players of the year all on court to battle it out for 2015's final trophy, everyone might just be in for the biggest fights they've faced yet this season.

Group A

These guys are the first to get to work in London, and perhaps have some of the highest credentials in the field. Top seed Novak Djokovic, with ten titles in 2015, including three Majors, is the clear favorite, but the three-time defending champion has plenty of competition. Roger Federer slipped to #3 in the world this year, despite reaching the finals in both New York and at Wimbledon, and may be hungrier than ever for a win here. He may have lost a bit early at the latter-stage Masters events, but a win over Rafael Nadal in the Basel championship shows he's still got fight left in him. But perhaps the underdogs in this group can shake things up -- Tomas Berdych has only beaten one player in this group this year, but only barely lost to Nole in Paris and could carry that momentum with him now. And Kei Nishikori, one of the last guys to qualify for London this year, has been a bit quiet in recent months, but his big-hitting got him all the way to the semis here in 2014, and has a solid five wins over top-ten players this season. If he's back in top form, there's really no one in this field he can't beat.

Group B

You can be sure the fight in the second group of Round Robins will be just as intense, though. Andy Murray returns to his homeland as the second seed, and is one of only three people in this field who's beaten Djokovic in 2015. While it's been a while since his last Major, he has won two Masters titles this year and has a 3-0 record against the other members of his Group this year. Still you can expect some push back now that the stakes are so high -- Stan Wawrinka, after all, was the surprise winner this year at Roland Garros, where he also beat Roger Federer in the quarters, by the way. Though he's also had a couple hiccups, he also has what it takes to thrive against the sport's very best. And David Ferrer, who had a stellar surge during the back half of the year, is one of the most experienced players in this group and might just be able put that experience to good use. Of course eyes will be on Rafael Nadal who, despite all his accomplishments, has never won the year-end championship. He did, however, beat Wawrinka just last month, and very nearly got the better of Federer in Basel. While he's certainly not used to being the underdog at events like this, there's no reason he can't come out swinging -- and perhaps when no one's expecting it, he might have his best opportunity to shine.

Of course, with so much talent on the courts you know that anything can happen over the next few days in London. And while a couple players have certainly established themselves as the ones to beat, on a stage like this, you can't count anyone out. And with everyone sure to be hitting their hardest, you know we're in for one of the biggest battles of the year -- so whoever comes out on top will definitely have earned it.

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