London Preview: How The Groups Stack Up
Djokovic and Federer are evenly split, while Nadal carries a comfortable record against Murray
Between the two of them they have claimed 10 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. This year Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been pitted in the same group for the round robin stages of the season-ending finale.
The Serbian No. 1 seed and Swiss No. 3 seed are locked at 21 wins apiece in their FedEx ATP Head2Head record, but Federer will have his work cut out to curb the Serb’s record-breaking run at the final hurdle this year. Djokovic has clinched four of the six matches the pair has played this year including the Wimbledon final and their most recent clash, in the US Open final. Federer, though, split these two defeats with a successful defence of his ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati title, where he denied the World No. 1 the chance to claim the only 1000 event missing from his collection.
Before their much-anticipated showdown in the Stan Smith Group, Djokovic will carry a 22-match winning streak into his opening match of the season-ending finale, having won four straight titles leading in. He will open against Japan’s No. 8 seed Kei Nishikori, a player he has beaten four of the six times they have met, including the only time they crossed paths in 2015 in the Rome quarter-finals.
Djokovic will carry an even more impressive 20-2 win-loss record into his group match with No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych, with the Czech’s last victory coming in the Rome quarter-finals two years ago. Berdych has, however, pushed the Serb the three times they have met in 2015 – in hard-fought three-set losses in the Dubai semi-finals and Rome final and falling in two tie-break sets in the BNP Paribas Masters quarter-finals only last week. It marked the first time in Djokovic’s career he had won a match without breaking serve.
Federer will open his campaign against Berdych on Sunday night. The Swiss leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 14-6 and comfortably won their two matches in 2015 – in the Rome and Indian Wells quarter-finals. Berdych last beat the 34 year old in Dubai in 2013.
For either Berdych or Nishikori to favour their chances of progressing to the semi-finals, they will likely have to bank on at least claiming the honours when they square off in the group stage. Nishikori has won three of their four matches, although the pair hasn’t met since Tokyo in 2012.
Turning to Ilie Nastase Group and No. 2 seed Andy Murray will begin his bid to claim a maiden season-ending finale when he takes on Spanish No. 7 seed David Ferrer on Monday. The Scot has been victorious in 11 of their 17 encounters including both times in 2015 – a four-set quarter-final win at Roland Garros and a straight-sets dismissal in the BNP Parisbas Masters semi-finals last week.
Ferrer’s countryman, No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal, will ride an impressive 15-6 record against the Scot and hope to build on a promising late-season lift in form. Murray, though, who reached this week’s BNP Paribas Masters final, won the duo’s only encounter of 2015, a straight-sets triumph to claim the Madrid final.
This year’s Roland Garros champion, Stan Wawrinka, presents Murray’s third hurdle to reaching the semi-finals at The O2 this week. The Scot holds a narrow 8-6 win-loss record over the Swiss, but they have not played since the 2013 US Open, where Wawrinka upset the defending champion in the quarter-finals. Wawrinka has since gone on to claim two Grand Slam titles.
The fourth-seeded Swiss opens his season-ending campaign against Nadal on Monday night. The Spaniard won the first 12 meetings between the pair, but Wawrinka’s upset of Nadal in the Australian Open final in 2014 marked a change in fortunes for the 30 year old. He has now won three of their past four matches, including two of the three times they met in 2015. Wawrinka claimed quarter-final victories in Rome and at last week’s BNP Paribas Masters, while Nadal split the two losses with a win in the Shanghai Rolex Masters quarter-finals.
Against Ferrer, Wawrinka narrowly trails 6-7 in their FedEx Head2Head record, but the Spaniard has not beaten him since Buenos Aires in 2013. The Swiss has secured their past three matches although this will be their first of 2015.
Continuing his enviable Head2Head record against his group-stage opponents, Nadal will ride the confidence of having prevailed in 23 of the 29 times he has taken on his countryman, Ferrer. Nadal ground out a three-set quarter-final win in Monte-Carlo, in the pair’s only clash of 2015. Ferrer’s last win against Nadal came in the quarter-finals at the same event last year.