Defending champion Novak Djokovic is the clear pick to win the ATP Tour World Finals in London, with second favourite Rafael Nadal easily opposable given the tournament venue and no-one else in the field having equally sound credentials.
Djokovic defied the trend of favourites flopping in the BNP Paribas Masters, the traditional lead-up event to the ATP Tour World Finals, and so he crosses the English Channel confident and with the best form in the book ahead of his title defence. Last year, Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 6-3, Andy Murray 4-6 6-3 7-5, Tomas Berdych 6-2 7-6, Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-2 and Roger Federer 7-6 7-5 to win the championship with a perfect 5-0 match record.
Djokovic has been drawn in Group A of the ATP Tour World Finals alongside Del Potro, Federer and the lucky ninth seed, Richard Gasquet, who is only taking part because the darling of the London crowd, Andy Murray, is injured. Making the semi-finals by finishing in the top two of the section ought to be straightforward for Djokovic, who is slowly closing the gap in his career head-to-head versus Federer and boasts excellent numbers against Del Potro and Gasquet.
Federer leads Djokovic 16-14 but the Serb has won each of his last two matches versus the Swiss, including their BNP Paribas Masters semi-final last week on an indoor hard court similar to the one on which the ATP Tour World Finals will take place. Djokovic lost each of his first four meetings with Federer – and seven out of nine – so one can see that the Serb has turned the tables on the Swiss in recent times.
Djokovic enjoys a 10-3 career advantage over Del Potro – the Serb leads the Argentinian 7-2 on hard courts – and the ATP Tour World Finals title holder has only one of his 10 encounters with Gasquet, the Frenchmen who has a poor record against pretty much everyone above him in the rankings. So one can see Djokovic cruising through to the ATP Tour World Finals semi-finals. One cannot say the same about Nadal.
There is a very good reason why Nadal has not won either the ATP Tour World Finals or the BNP Paribas Masters. Both are staged on an indoor hard court and Nadal does not thrive in that environment. David Ferrer defeated Nadal 6-3 7-5 in the BNP Paribas Masters semi-finals. Nadal had won each of his previous eight matches versus Ferrer, all of them on clay, and led his Spanish compatriot 20-4 going into their Paris clash. Nadal made the 2010 ATP Tour World Finals but the Spaniard has struggled badly in London in most seasons.
Sky Bet is offering odds of 2.25 that Djokovic emulates 2010 and 2011 champion Federer in winning back-to-back ATP Tour World Finals titles. Bookmakers would be quite in their rights to be betting odds on about Djokovic in view of Nadal’s very ordinary record on indoor hard courts.
With regards to ATP Tour World Finals exotics, Federer and Ferrer are well worth backing to reach the semi-finals at odds of 1.80 and 2.25 respectively, with Paddy Power being the bookmakers that is offering both bets. Ferrer holds a 7-3 career lead over Berdych and the Spaniard is up 7-4 on Stanislas Wawrinka, plus he will fancy his chance of beating Nadal for the second time in two weeks. Federer is on the decline but the Swiss pushed Djokovic to the limit in the BNP Paribas Masters and he has excellent head-to-head records against Del Potro (14-5) and Gasquet (10-2).
Even though one is potting Nadal, the Spaniard’s numbers versus Berdych (16-3) and Wawrinka (11-0) are sufficiently impressive to stop one betting on the world number one crashing out of the ATP World Tour Finals before the semi-finals. Bwin is offering odds of 5.75 that Nadal fails to reach the last four but the option does not appeal.