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Old 11-15-2011, 09:34 AM   #1
Angus Saul
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Post Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2011

The 2011 ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena in London are finally upon us. The draws are as follows.

Group A:

Novak Djokovic (1)
Andy Murray (4)
David Ferrer (5)
Tomas Berdych (7)

Group B:

Rafael Nadal (2)
Roger Federer (3)
Jo Wilfried Tsonga (6)
Mardy Fish (8)

The two alternates are Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro.

For those unfamiliar with the event, here's how it works. The tournament begins in a round robin format. Each player plays each other, and the top two players from each group go through to the semi-finals. This is worked out on the number of matches won, then on sets won to sets lost, and then games won to games lost. So two three set victories and a three set loss might not be enough, as Andy Murray found out in 2009 as he was pipped to the post by one game by Juan Martin Del Potro.

The winner of Group A plays the runner up of Group B and vice versa. The winners of those matches goes through to the final, and the winner will take the title.

Of course, the tournament isn't just about winning the title. It's also about racking up as many points as you can in order to finish as high up in the rankings as you possibly can. In the group stages, it is 200 points for a win, and 0 points for a loss. In the semi finals it increases to 400 points for a win, and in the final, a further 500 points. If a player goes undefeated throughout the whole tournament, meaning winning five matches against top eight players back to back, he would earn an impressive 1500 points. That's less than a grand slam, but a whole lot more than an ordinary Masters series event.

But you don't need to win every match to win the title. It is possible to take home the title having won just three of five matches. This means only winning one round robin match, and then the semi finals and the final, adding up to a grand total of 1100 points, which is still an impressive number.

Last year, Roger Federer was the undefeated champion, with wins over Robin Soderling, David Ferrer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Who will win this year's event? Well, it's too close to call right now. Both Andy Murray and Roger Federer are on form, and Djokovic and Nadal are a little short on match practise.

The matches to watch of the round robin phase are most certainly the repeat of last year's final in Group B as Nadal takes on Federer for the first time since the French Open final where Nadal came through in four sets. Novak Djokovic takes on the in-form Andy Murray in Group A's headline clash, and the Scot will be hoping for a repeat of the match between the pair in Cincinatti earlier this year.

It's difficult to look outside these four for a potential title winner. Any of the other four could amount an upset in one or perhaps two matches, but they aren't serious title contenders. At least, not yet. Two matches in and we can review the situation.

For now, all we can do is sit and wait until Sunday.

Angus
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:18 PM   #2
Mertov
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Angus I completely agree with you, it is very hard to look outside the top 4 for the potential winner of the title. I find it even harder for anyone else to reach the semi-finals. The one who would desperately want to win this title is Rafa in my opinion. He has never won it and it is the only top level title he has yet to win. He also has a lot to prove here, having never beaten Federer in this tournament (0-3) and having lost to Djokovic 6 times this year without a win. Obviously, a title here would have to pass by one of them at least, if not both. Oddly enough, he is probably considered to have the least chance of winning this title, out of the top 4.

That being said, I can't be sure about Djokovic and Nadal's physical forms. I don't believe Djokovic is entering Sunday 100% physically even if he says so (the day before he pulled out of Paris he said his shoulder was "just fine"), nor do I believe that Nadal's long resting period has only to do with "rest". But if I am wrong, and they come at their 100%, it should be fun to see any match between those four, whether in group stages or in the semis and finals.

I believe Ferrer and Fish will be much more than "brief guest stars". It would be nice if Tsonga and Berdych find their top form beginning Sunday. I can't wait until Sunday either.

Mert
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
luke broadbent
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I agree, Mert, I don't think Djokovic is 100% and I wouldn't be that surprised to see him not reach the semis. I'm actually going to stick my neck out and tip Ferrer to go through with Murray.

The other group will probably depend on what kind of form Tsonga's in. He's proven this year that he's capable of stringing a few matches together against the very best but I don't see him doing that. I expect Nadal and Federer to go through.
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Old 11-19-2011, 01:26 PM   #4
Angus Saul
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The 2011 Awards have been announced and the winners are:

ATP World Number 1 (Singles)
Novak Djokovic

ATP World Number 1 (Doubles)
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

These next awards are voted by players

Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Roger Federer

Comeback Player of the Year
Juan Martin Del Potro

Newcomer of the Year
Miloas Raonic

Most Improved Player
Alex Bogomolov Jr.

Voted by Panel

Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year
Rafael Nadal

FAN FAVOURITE AWARDS

Singles
Roger Federer

Doubles
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

If only there were an award for favourite SC columnist...

Angus

Last edited by Angus Saul; 11-19-2011 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:34 PM   #5
Angus Saul
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Action at the ATP World Tour Finals has commenced today, and we've had some great matches already. Federer took on Tsonga in the first singles match of the tournament and took the 200 points on offer with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 win in a topsy-turvy match which could have seen either come though in a tight final set which Tsonga tamely handed Federer in his last service game.

Nadal and Fish were locked in a tense encounter lasting just under three hours, both breaking and then unable to hold serve. A confident start from Fish, and perhaps a nervous or conservative first match from Nadal, but in a nailbiting deciding set tie-break, Nadal came through on his 3rd match point to fend off the dangerous Fish.

Tomorrow will see Andy Murray take on David Ferrer in the first Group A match, and Novak Djokovic takes on Tomas Berdych in the evening session. So far, no upsets, but can Berdych capitalise on a Djokovic low on match practice and possibly still nursing an injury? We will see.

Angus
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:19 PM   #6
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I can't believe it.. I did not watch the match, I just saw the score. How in the world did Ferrer defeat Murray? That's the match out of the first where I expected an upset the least..

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Old 11-21-2011, 08:53 PM   #7
Angus Saul
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The first upset of the tournament was almost followed by another. A struggling Andy Murray was put to the sword by a ruthlessly efficient David Ferrer, who overcame the world number three in straight sets 6-4 7-5. In response to Mert’s question, Murray started well, but faltered every time he went a break up, and appeared to be having trouble with his left hip and he required treatment before the second set. It was clear he was in pain, his movement was poor and he was unable to serve well, as pushing off the injured leg was difficult. Ferrer just did what he needed to do and kept Murray moving and the errors came. Murray completed the match, but we might be seeing Janko Tipsarevic step in as an alternate at some point. This is not to take anything away from Ferrer who played a solid if unremarkable match throughout.

Berdych had a match point in his game against world number one Novak Djokovic, where I predicted the potential upset, but it was not to be, and Djokovic, like Nadal yesterday, struggled through and took the match on a tie break, 3-6 6-3 7-6. I didn't see the match myself, but the scoreline tells the tale. A very close match where Berdych had a golden opportunity to upset the world number one but didn't quite have it in him. One mis-timed forehand is enough to lose you a match, and so it proved today.

After all players have played their first matches, here are the group standings.

Group A:
Player Match Set Games Diff.
W L W L W L

David Ferrer 1 0 2 0 13 9 +4
Novak Djokovic 1 0 2 1 16 15 +1
Tomas Berdych 0 1 1 2 15 16 -1
Andy Murray 0 1 0 2 9 13 -4




Group B:
Player Match Set Games Diff.
W L W L W L

Rafael Nadal 1 0 2 1 16 14 +2
Roger Federer 1 0 2 1 14 12 +2
Mardy Fish 0 1 1 2 14 16 -2
Jo Wilfried Tsonga 0 1 1 2 12 14 -2

Very important matches tomorrow for Group B - Nadal takes on Federer for who will surely go through as group leader, and Fish and Tsonga will battle it out for the group's second spot.

In Wednesday's action, Murray will take on Berdych in a match he realistically needs to win, as he still has to play Novak Djokovic on Friday. Ferrer is heading Group A and will be hoping to repeat the upset of 2007, where he beat Nadal and Djokovic to reach the finals in Shanghai as it was then known as the Masters Cup. Winning the second match in the round robin phase does not guarantee making it through to the semi-finals, but as he is yet to drop a set, another win would put him in a very good position indeed.

Play resumes tomorrow not before 14:00 GMT

Angus

N.B. I apologise for the confusing nature of the table - apparently the forums do not enjoy showing tables of any sort. If anyone knows how to do it, let me know and I'll do my best to remedy the situation. Until then, the name at the top of each group is the one winning and the one at the bottom is the one losing. You'll just have to trust me on the numbers I guess.

Last edited by Angus Saul; 11-21-2011 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:32 PM   #8
Angus Saul
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The worst is confirmed. Andy Murray has pulled out of the World Tour Finals, after aggravating an injury he picked up a week ago.

This is good news for Janko Tipsarevic however, who steps in as Murray's replacement. That's good sportsmanship from Murray, letting his alternate know a day in advance so that he had time to prepare. We wish Murray a speedy recovery and hope he returns on top form for the Australian Open in January.

Tipsarevic will take on Berdych tomorrow, and Djokovic takes on Group A leader David Ferrer.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:06 PM   #9
Angus Saul
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Day three's play is over, and what a day it has been. Tsonga overcame Mardy Fish in a tight opening set which saw four breaks of serve and a tie-break before trouncing him in the second 6-1. This victory put him in the top spot in the group, but the winner of Group B's second match would overtake once they had played.

Federer's encounter with Nadal was billed as the most eagerly anticipated match of the tournament. It was a dream come true when they were placed in the same group. The great rivalry between the two greatest players of the century was to resume.

But the match did not live up to the expectations many had had. The pair had met in last year's final and were closely matched throughout most of it, Federer eventually prevailing in a one-sided final set. Unfortunately that is the only similarity between that mach and this.

Federer outplayed Nadal from the back, and from the net in the first set, Nadal struggling to keep pace as the Swiss moved a break ahead to go up 5-2. Nadal clawed back a game before Federer went on the rampage, winning the next seven games in a row to wrap up the match 6-3 6-0. That victory means he has qualified for the semi-finals. He is not guaranteed to finish top of the group, but he cannot drop lower than second.

This means his match with Fish no longer matters. Unfortunately for Fish, Federer's win means he can't progress either. Even a 6-0 6-0 win wouldn't be enough. He was relying on Nadal to win, and then to beat Federer himself. Even then, it mightn't have been enough.

So the remaining match of any importance in Group B is Nadal - Tsonga. The winner will go through, regardless of the score. However, a straight sets victory for Tsonga might be enough to send him through as top of the group, providing Federer loses. Nadal can't end top of the group unless he wins in straight sets and Federer loses to Fish in straight sets.

We'll have to wait until Thursday to see which Group B players will be in the semi-finals.

Angus
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Old 11-23-2011, 08:23 PM   #10
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David Ferrer defeats Novak Djokovic in straight sets and guarantees a ticket to semi-finals. He has to be the most overachieving tennis player of the 21st Century. Without a sizzling talent, and with no big shots (a big serve or a forehand) to rely on, he has managed to stay in top 10 for so long and push top 4 on and off.. Hats off to Ferrer.

It looks like we may have a genuine Federer-Djokovic semi-final possibility now.. Rafa may ultimately be glad that he got crushed by Federer yesterday.

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Old 11-23-2011, 09:00 PM   #11
Angus Saul
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Berdych took on Andy Murray's alternate Janko Tipsarevic and came through after a sizzling tie-break. This means the draw is very open in Group A. Ferrer is through, as Mert says, but if Berdych wins over Ferrer in straight sets, he is almost certainly through too.

If either loses, there could be a three-way tie for second, and Berdych is in the best position so far, having won 3 of 5 sets. Djokovic has won 2 of 4, and Tipsarevic has won 1 of 5 (as you have to include Andy Murray's result as his. Tipsarevic could get through with a straight sets win over Djokovic, assuming Berdych loses is straights. In essence, each player has to win their next match in order to progress, with the exception of Ferrer.

Group B sees its battles continue tomorrow with Federer taking on Fish, and if Federer's form is anything to go by, the American doesn't stand a chance. And neither does anyone else in the tournament. Nadal and Tsonga go head to head and the winner progresses to the semi-finals. That's the match to watch.

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Old 11-24-2011, 07:00 PM   #12
Angus Saul
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Fish started badly, and never really took off. Federer probably played only two of three bad games in the match, and in the second set, that was all it took for Fish to edge his way back in. He'll be nursing these wounds for a little while now, over the long off-season. Three matches played, three matches lost. Not the end to the year he might have hoped. Federer takes it 6-1 3-6 6-3.

Federer however is still in fine form, cruising past his opponents without too much difficulty, and he is surely the favourite for the title. Ferrer is the only other unbeaten man in the draw, and you feel Federer would dispose of the diminutive Spaniard in double-time.

Nadal falls in a thrilling three setter. Unlike in the first match of the day, this battle was an epic, very close the whole way through. This one is Tsonga's: 7-6 4-6 6-3.

This means Tsonga goes through to the semi-finals as second in the group. Federer is still the top dog though.
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Old 11-24-2011, 07:11 PM   #13
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Rafa's endurance has been a problem every once in a while and tonight it geared its ugly head again. He was visibly tired when the third set started (same thing happened in the fourth set against Djokovic at the US Open).

That being said, Tsonga is a pleasure to watch when he plays like this. He served well (well, not the second set) and began to whack every ball, and coming to the net a lot. I never understood why he does not serve and volley more often on faster surfaces anyway, he did it a lot in the third set tonight. Hopefully, he was stay injury-free in 2012. Since 2008, when he reached the Australian Open final, he has had to deal with injuries on and off, which, in my opinion, kept him out of top 5. He certainly has the talent to be there.

There are many possible scenarios but I guess the one that would interest more people would be where Federer ends up facing Djokovic in the semis. We will wait and see

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Old 11-25-2011, 01:57 PM   #14
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Tipsarevic defeats Djokovic 3/6 6/3 6/3 !!

Now, Djokovic depends on Ferrer to advance. If Ferrer cannot beat Berdych tonight, Djokovic goes home and that leaves only Roger Federer in the semis out of the top 4. I bet nobody saw that one coming.

I am expecting a thrilling match tonight. I know Ferrer will try 100% even if he has guaranteed to advance at this point. He has one of the highest sports ethics that I know..

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Old 11-25-2011, 07:31 PM   #15
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Berdych came back from a set down to beat Ferrer, and knocking out Novak Djokovic in the process.

So the semi-final line up is as follows.

Ferrer (5) vs Tsonga (6)
Federer (4) vs Berdych (7)

I think, based on Federer's fine form (and the fact he's already had a day's rest), that he'll be in the final. The other match could be a closer affair. Tsonga certainly has the firepower to breeze past Ferrer, and he made an easy go of it at Wimbledon this year, winning in straight sets. Of course, this was the tournament that Tsonga beat Federer to reach the semi-finals. Either way, this surface favours Tsonga over Ferrer, even if it is slower than last year.

So i'm predicting a Federer/Tsonga final, but we'll have to see how they played before predicting a winner. It's early days, but I'm going to say Federer for the tournament. That'll put him back to number three in the world, meaning he will have finished in the top three for nine consecutive years. Either way, Tsonga's had a great year, and he'll be pleased with this top ten finish.

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