After eleven months of high quality, action packed tennis, the 2013 season is drawing to a close.
For many, the season has already finished but for the eight best players of 2013, there is one final tournament to fight for.
The ATP World Tour finals is the culmination of a year-long effort of hard work and determination with only the eight best players qualifying for a chance to hoist the trophy.
Following the conclusion of the Paris Masters, the eight players have been decided and the groups drawn.
The groups are as follows:
Group A: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka
Group B: Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet
Andy Murray had qualified for the tournament - however an operation on a slipped disc means he will be missing from the line-up in London.
Arguably Group A appears to be the easier group, but in reality, there are no easy groups. The question is, who will win this year?
Stanislas Wawrinka has produced what some see as his greatest season of tennis yet, qualifying for the first time. A stunning run to the semi-final of the US Open, beating Berdych and Murray before losing to Djokovic in a five-set thriller has got to be his highlight of 2013.
However, despite this, I think he will find it hard to make it out of the group stage. His recent form has not been as scintillating as at the US Open with a first round defeat at Basel and succumbing to a superior Djokovic in straight sets at Paris.
The same can be said of Richard Gasquet. He has played well all year to qualify for the season-ending tournament for the first time since 2007. However, when up against the big names such as Nadal and Djokovic, it is likely that he will not be able to withstand their superior standard of tennis - a meek two-set defeat to Nadal at Paris the prime example of this.
From Group A, then, I see Nadal and Ferrer making it to the semis. Despite Ferrer’s loss to Nadal at Paris, I see him winning all his group matches and advancing. Ferrer should have enough to out-do Berdych, much like he did recently in Paris in three tight sets.
From Group B, I feel Djokovic and Federer will qualify. Djokovic is in brilliant form, winning his last three tournaments in Beijing, Shanghai and Paris. Because of this, I see him winning all three of his matches like Nadal. The match between Del Potro and Federer should then decide who makes the semis.
Although Del Potro has been in fantastic form himself, making the finals of Shanghai and winning Basel, you feel this run has worn him out. Federer on the other hand seems to be rediscovering that form that arguably made him the greatest ever. On an indoor court in a tournament he has won six times in the past, I have to favour Federer.
From the final four of Nadal, Ferrer, Djokovic and Federer, I believe there is only one possible winner. Novak Djokovic has been unplayable, his reaction to the four-set final defeat to Nadal at the US Open has been phenomenal.
He is coming into the tournament full of confidence and on good form, on a current seventeen match winning streak stretching from the Davis Cup semi-final in September to the Paris Masters. He is defending champion and I believe he will find dispatching Ferrer in the semis a simple enough task.
Deciding who will play him in the final is a much more difficult task. A semi-final between Federer and Nadal is an exciting prospect but I believe either will be eventually defeated by Djokovic in the final.
Whatever happens, we can expect an intriguing, exhilarating week of tennis from the world’s eight best players.
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