What we learned from ATP World Tour Finals ahead of 2016 season
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | November 23, 2015
Young pretenders fail to live up to hype in 2015
Another year in the men’s singles season goes by, and yet again it was dominated by Novak Djokovic, as he claimed three out of the four Grand Slam titles as well as picking up his fifth ATP World Tour Finals trophy.
Many predicted that some of the sport’s young stars such as Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov would finally break through and challenge the ‘big four’ for major honours, but all have failed to do so.
Even 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic dramatically flopped this year, after reaching just one Grand Slam semi-final, and things don’t really look as though they’ll chance in the near future either.
Unstoppable Djokovic leads the way once more
Djokovic has somehow distanced himself from the rest of the field even more so after his 6-3 6-4 ATP World Tour Finals final thrashing of Roger Federer, as he stands top of the rankings by more than double the points of nearest rival Andy Murray.
The fact that the Serb and Swiss superstars have racked up 10 of the last 12 season-ending titles just goes to show that they continue to dominate the sport.
Despite Scotsman Murray’s high standing, however, he too has not particularly lived up to his promise and built on his two Grand Slams, the second of which he won back in 2013. He is the second-favourite with Coral at 5/1, though, to lift his first Australian Open title in January.
Murray must regain magic to challenge for top honours again
It may be argued that the Brit had his thoughts on the upcoming Davis Cup final against Belgium, which his team are odds-on at 2/7 to win, but his showing in London was disappointing after losing in straight sets to both Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.
On top of that, Murray has still been unable get the better of old master Federer, now 34, having not beaten him since 2013, in a five-set epic semi-final at the Australian Open, in five attempts.
The Swiss all-time great has also disproved critics’ predictions that he would decline, by instead slightly changing his approach to the game with a more attacking style with the help of coach Stefan Edberg, and it has certainly paid off.
Federer has been as impressive and consistent as always, despite not being able to have a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012 to show for it, but he has still reached three finals in that time, a feat which only Djokovic and Nadal have bettered.
Has Nadal got more to offer after resurgence?
Speaking of Nadal, the Spaniard is seemingly back to form after a brief blip following injury. However, he is still nowhere near the standard as Djokovic and Federer, as his 6-3 6-3 loss to the former proved.
It is remarkable that he has been able to get over his slump, though at 29 he isn’t getting any younger and, due to his body-destroying style of play, it is very difficult to see him emulate Federer at his age or make up the deficit of four Grand Slams on him.
Plenty to look forward to for 2016 season
So, ahead of the 2016 season, starting with the Australian Open, expect roughly the same to occur as this year, where Djokovic is odds-on 4/5 to retain his title Down Under.
Back Federer to even claim perhaps one final Grand Slam, which would be his 18th (he is 13/2 to do so in Melbourne), while Nadal and Murray should have enough to capitalise and hold off any other young pretenders if the latter duo slip up.
Wawrinka has certainly done well to claim two majors in his latter years on the circuit, but the Swiss number two is in his 30s now too and looks unlikely to battle above his weight on the bigger stage again.
Whatever happens, the sport certainly never fails to intrigue or even surprise, and it is not long until the new season starts again.
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