The world’s top eight players arrive in London this week for the ATP finals – a tournament that traditionally produces its share of surprises. We cast an eye over the eight men competing for the end-of-year title:
How’s he travelling? He’s again been the tour’s stand-out player, recovering from injury at the start of the year to win three of the four Grand Slam titles and reclaim the No 1 ranking. Traditionally, Nadal has faded at the end of the year, his physically taxing style of play perhaps leaving him with little left in the tank by November.
Any chance? The best player in the world is, of course, a chance, but Nadal looks to be winding down already and has never made the final at the annual end-of-year event.
How’s he travelling? His year began well – winning the Australian Open – but flatlined in the middle as he dropped from the top two in the rankings for the first time in seven years. Federer has, however, discovered some form of late; indeed, he may actually have played better over the past month than he managed at any other time this year.
Any chance? Wouldn’t surprise if he was the bookies’ favourite. He’s won this event four times – Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl share the record with five wins each.
How’s he travelling? He’s been unable to win a Masters event so far this year but has shown enough to suggest he’s closing the gap on the top two. Still only 23, but he seems to have been around forever and his all-court game will ensure he is one of the players to beat in London. Brings some solid late-season form in with him.
Any chance? Definitely – probably the most likely winner outside the top two. A previous winner in 2008 and is again finishing the season strongly.
How’s he travelling? Has had an up-and-down year. He had a particularly ordinary run of form mid-year that led to him sacking his coach. A breakthrough Grand Slam title still eludes Murray, but he did manage to add another two Masters series titles to his swag this year, winning in Toronto and Shanghai and beating Federer in the final in both cases.
Any chance? Can’t write him off, but could be ready to put a difficult year behind him. Doesn’t seem to relish the added pressure of playing in the United Kingdom.
How’s he travelling? The big-hitting Swede has enjoyed another consistent year, making the final of the French Open and the last eight at Wimbledon and the US Open – results that saw him crack the world’s top five for the first time. Impressed last year, playing his first ATP finals, so should approach this year’s event with plenty of confidence.
Any chance? One of the tour’s most dangerous players and has the game to trouble any of the players ranked above him. Consistency is the worry. If he can sort that out, he’ll be a threat.
How’s he travelling? The rangey Swiss has long been earmarked for big things and began to deliver this year – he won his first Masters title, made his first Grand Slam final and climbed to a career-high ranking of sixth in the world. At 25, he’s now in his prime and should know his own game well enough to be able to trouble the top players.
Any chance? Definitely capable of an upset or two, but may not have enough shots left in the locker at the end of a big year.
How’s he travelling? He just makes up the numbers these days. At 21, Roddick won his first Grand Slam title and attained the world No 1 ranking but it’s been a remarkably fruitless intervening seven years. He’s still a solid bet to make the second week at the majors but Roddick’s one-dimensional style has increasingly come up short against the more complete, more versatile players in the top bracket.
Any chance? The end-of-year tournament throws up its share of surprises but a few big guns would need to be well below their best for Roddick to win.
How’s he travelling? Secured qualification for this tournament by winning his hometown tournament in Valencia two weeks back, so he has some form under his belt. His year overall, though, has been unremarkable, the Spanish counter-puncher failing to make it to the last eight at any of the Grand Slams.
Any chance? Not an obvious bet but he progressed to the final at this event in 2007. Could be a smokey but his rivals appear better-equipped.