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ATP Picks: London ATP Tour Finals

We made it! The exhaustive, but thrilling, season reaches it’s climax in England’s capital.

London, O2 Arena

Barclays ATP World Tour FinalsThis year the end of year event has a fresh feel to it. Three players – Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic – will make their debuts at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. All 8 players deserve to be here and it’s the old guard against the new wave. The Big 3 might still have the edge but anyone can catch fire and just need to win 2 group matches to reach the semi-finals.

Djokovic leads Group A and is career 41-5 against his group opponents and clear favorite fresh off his Paris Masters title and another exceptional year. Marin Cilic is perhaps the wildcard, since after his blistering US Open win, he has failed to back it up significantly but he will be fired up on his debut.

Roger Federer leads Group B and is looking to win the season finale for the seventh time. He has a 44-11 tournament record and has only failed to reach the semi-finals once in 12 visits. He is only 19-14 against his group opponents and looks to have the tougher group. The number 1 ranking is on the line but Federer needs some luck if he’s to claim it back.

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Let’s break it down:

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ATP Level: 1500

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Novak Djokovic - The Serb is attempting to win the season finale for the fourth time and finish as the year-end World No. 1.

Slumping: Stan ‘Stanimal’ Wawrinka – Not had the year he would have hope for considering he’s a Slam winner.

On Fire: Andy Murray - A late season tear brought Andy 3 titles and vaulted him into this competition. Confidence is high.

Outside Shot: Kei Nishikori – Has proven he can beat all of them and in this competition, anything can happen.

My pick: Novak Djokovic – He just dominates from the baseline with no apparent mental weaknesses.

Did You Know? The singles champion will be presented The Brad Drewett Trophy, in memory of the ATP Executive Chairman and President who passed away on 3 May 2013.

Thanks for reading and see you again next year!

Shanghai Masters

ATP Picks: Shanghai

Shanghai Rolex Masters

Shanghai Rolex MastersAll the big names assemble again as the season enters it’s finale. Roger Federer returns to action after a three-week break, looking to win his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

Rafael Nadal slowly coming back from injury last week in Beijing, looks to win the elusive Shanghai crown for the first time, while Andy Murray will chase valuable points in Shanghai. The Scot has a strong record here, winning the title in 2010-11.

Tennis in China is exploding and with Li Na retiring, they are looking to their men for future stars. Wildcards are awarded to the Chinese players Di Wu, Ze Zhang, Chuhan Wang and Argentine Juan Monaco.

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Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 1000

Surface: Outdoor Hard

Defending Champion: Novak Djokovic - Djokovic is chasing his 20th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title coming off an unbeaten run of 12 matches.

Nasty Floater: Richard Gasquet – Not seeded and could face Berdych in the 2nd round who he beat recently at Davis Cup

Up and Coming: Dominic ‘The Dominator’ Thiem – Showed what he could do at the US Open and could face Djokovic in the 2nd round.

Slumping: David ‘The Wall’ Ferrer – Are all the miles catching up with him? Recent losses to Granollers, Simon and Troicki have been unusual.

On Fire: Tomas Berdych – The BerdMan is hitting form at the right time chasing  berth in London.

My pick: Novak Djokovic – Looks to be on another tear on the hard courts.

Did You Know? In its first three years in 2009-2011, Shanghai was awarded ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year

Watch: Shanghai Uncovered

Thanks for reading and check back next week for more picks and amusement!

@DjokerNole is the one to beat

Djokovic vs. Murray Preview

Tonight, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will play their quarterfinal match at the US Open tennis tournament. This match could be the best up until this part of the tournament, and tennis fans and experts are eagerly expecting it. Djokovic leads 12-8 in head to head matches (13-8 if we count one exhibition match), and he won the only match they played this season, in Miami, in straight sets, 7:5, 6:3.

However, Murray won two out of their three previous matches in Grand Slam tournaments, and both of them were in the final – US Open and Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam titles Murray has won up to date. Djokovic is in the better form at the moment, he took over Wimbledon from Murray this year, and as the number one on the ATP rank list, he is the favorite to clinch the title in USA too. Until the match against Tsonga in fourth round, Murray didn’t win against anyone from the top 10 this season, and the games he’s been playing in this tournament were probably the best he played all year. He lost only one set in this year’s tournament, and he could be up to a challenge in the match against Djokovic. However, in the match against Tsonga, the Frenchman had a break up in two sets, and he could convert it, because of the big amount of unforced errors. Murray played solidly from both ends, and he rarely makes unforced errors, so it is very hard to win points against him.

Having all that in mind, it is obvious that the outcome of the match depends on Djokovic. However, in their matches it is very hard to predict how things will unfold.

Djokovic started off with four victories in a row against Murray in the ATP tour. Most people believed at that time that Murray, who was often very nervous and could completely fall apart against the toughest opponents, would never reach his potential, and maybe not even ever get to beat Djokovic, but he responded fantastically, beating Novak three times in a row.

After Djokovic’s fantastic 2011 season, he was thought to be the next undisputable ruler of the ATP circuit, but after that, he lost his supremacy and even lost two Slam finals to Murray, who had a terrible record in the finals until then.

So, this match is very unpredictable. Djokovic is certainly a favorite, but in their match, current form doesn’t have to be a decider. It is entirely possible that the player in the better mood on the eve of the match will win.