ATP World Tour Finals preview: Federer and Murray in action
The prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals is almost upon us, with the world’s eight top tennis players, minus Rafael Nadal who is injured, on show at London’s O2 Arena.
Group B quartet Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Milos Raonic are up first, starting with the former duo’s encounter at 2pm on Sunday November 9th.
World number one Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, will have to wait until Monday, when he kicks off his opening Group A round robin match against Marin Cilic, following Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych’s duel.
Kei Nishikori v Andy Murray
Scotsman Murray (2/1 to top Group B) goes into this match on the back of a terrific last six weeks, having won three titles to safely qualify for this competition in the end.
He has also won all three of his head-to-heads with Tour Finals debutant Nishikori without dropping a set. Murray, therefore, is odds-on at 4/9 to beat him again, and a more enticing 11/10 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline.
Nishikori (4/1 to top Group B), on the other hand, will be the first ever Japanese player to take part in his event, and could relish the challenge, having recently reached the final of the US Open. The up-and-coming star is 13/8 to claim a crucial win.
The 24-year-old also has a fantastic career win record over the rest of the field (17-11), with Wawrinka the only other player to have a positive record against the diminutive warrior.
Murray, currently the world number six, can earn his top four status back again if he gains success. He is the 13/2 tournament third-favourite, and his new coach Amelie Mauresmo has full faith in him.
“He could aim for the win there,” she said. “I think for him the important thing is going to be to try to finish the year at number four. There is a possibility of that.”
Roger Federer v Milos Raonic
Record Tour Finals champion Federer (with six) takes on another rising star in Raonic in the evening session at 8pm. The Swiss world number two has been in decent form leading up to this tournament, but has not won here in two years. He can return to the top of the rankings if results go his way, and he is second-favourite at 7/2 to claim his seventh title.
Federer (11/8 to top the pool) enjoys facing taller players on the tour, and holds a 6-1 winning record against big-serving Raonic (5/1 outsider). He is odds-on at 3/10 to beat him again.
Montenegrin-born Canadian Raonic, though, won their last battle at the most recent Paris Masters, and can be backed at 9/4 for another victory. The 23-year-old reached the final of that tournament and got to the semis at Wimbledon this year, so is a surprise 18/1 shout to win in London.