Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ATP Finals: Storylines To Watch

There's still Davis Cup in December between defending champion Spain and former champion Czech Republic. But all eyes will be in London for the ATP World Tour Finals with the eight best players duke it out for the grand finale of the ATP season. Here are some storylines to look out for:

Battle for Year-End #1 Ranking

World no. 1 Roger Federer takes a 945-point cushion into the tour finals against no. 2 Rafael Nadal. With 1500 points in contention, there is a possibility that with a strong showing, Nadal can overtake Federer for the top spot, but it will have to be a very strong showing. According to the ATP, Nadal will have to perform better than he has ever done in years past and reach the finals to have a chance. He also has to hope that Federer, who has historically done well here, win less than two matches. It happened last year and weirder things have happened this year, so we'll see.

Serbian Rising

For most of the year, third ranked Novak Djokovic has been second fiddle to all of the other bigger storylines of the season. In the past few weeks, however, this Grand Slam champion is making himself heard. He beat Roger Federer in the Basel finals and then crushed Rafael Nadal in Paris en route to his fourth and fifth titles of the season. He is also the tour final defending champion and thus will be seen as the favorite.

Fairtytale Season Redux?

Newly crowned Grand Slam winner Juan Martin Del Potro and French Open finalist Robin Soderling did the unthinkable this season. Del Potro edged out 5-time US Open champion Federer at the US Open and Soderling toppled 6-time French Open champion Nadal who was then undefeated in Roland Garros. Del Potro has struggled since winning the US Open a few months ago, while Soderling with his solid results this fall season along with the late withdrawal from ailing Andy Roddick catapulted himself for the first time into this elite group of eight.

Homecourt Advantage?

Brit Andy Murray broke the duopoly of Federer and Nadal by rising to number two in the rankings this summer. Since then he has fallen back to #4 and has to be disappointed in his Slam results for the past year. He's now back in London since a shocking loss to Andy Roddick in the semifinals in this year's Wimbledon. Can he take win a big one in London finally?

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