ATP World Tour Finals 2014

The best 8 Men’s Singles tennis players of the season will battle for perhaps the most prestigious non-Slam title in the calendar. The venue will be London’s O2 Arena for the 6th year in a row, before which it used to be held at Shanghai. 
Qualification for this event is based on the players’ ATP points for the year, starting from the first tournament, right up to the Paris Masters that ended last week. Two of the eight players qualified at the Paris Masters to round up the field, with four spots in contention before the tournament even began. 
2014 sees a few first-timers, and a few spots that never change:


 

GROUP A
Top of the race once again, the Serb is gunning for the year-end no. 1 ranking for the 3rd time (2011 and 2012) and his 4th WTF title. His win at the Paris Masters (600th career match win) made him favorite in the race to finish no. 1 this year against a raging Federer, but what’s important is that Djokovic is the unofficial indoor hard-court King for the last few seasons, unbeaten for 27 matches. He has had a stellar season, only suffering a dip in form after his second Wimbledon title in a classic five-setter against the Swiss Master. He will be disappointed after failing to make the other three Slam finals, but looks next to unbeatable after becoming a Father a few weeks ago, as was evident in Paris. 
Prediction: WINNER
 
Stan Wawrinka (4)
This will be his second consecutive appearance in London. 2014 has been a breakout year for the ‘other’ Swiss player, who managed to break the stranglehold of the big 4 at the beginning of the year, winning the Aussie Open – his first Major title, after winning the Chennai Open for the second time. He went on to win the Monte Carlo Masters title on clay after that, but has been a bit inconsistent beyond these two impressive wins, losing in the first round at Roland Garros and in the Quarters at Wimbledon and US Open. However, along with Federer, he has helped Switzerland reach their first Davis Cup Final since 1992. 
Prediction: GROUP STAGES
 
Tomas Berdych (6)
The thing about Berdych is that he is always around at the end of the year. He doesn’t ever have a phenomenally successful year, but always enters every Major as a threat, and reaches Quarterfinals and semifinals, and before you know it, it’s his fifth consecutive World Tour Final. He’s rarely finished outside the top 8, and is a true top-tier tennis player, although a tier below the best. He won only two ATP500 titles for the year, but had a decent season reaching 4 ATP Finals. 
Prediction: GROUP STAGES
 
Marin Cilic (5)
Probably the story of 2014. Cilic won a few smaller tournaments at Zagreb and Delray Beach early on, but really came into the spotlight at Wimbledon when he lost to Djokovic in 5 sets in the quarterfinals. Then came the US Open, where he became the first 14th seed to win here in the Open Era. He destroyed Federer in the semis, before demolishing Nishikori in the Finals, becoming the first outside the Big 4 since Del Potro in 2009 to win the title. He leapfrogged past many in the race, reaching his first World Tour Finals. 
Prediction: SEMIFINALS 
 
GROUP B
 
68 wins for the year, Two Masters titles and a close Wimbledon Final. This was a massive step up from a despondent 2013, and Federer enters London at no. 2—hoping to pull a rabbit out of the hat and usurp the top ranking. He lost his chance at Paris though, but will still gun for a record-shattering 7th season-ending WTF title. With his 6 tournament wins, he is already ahead of every player, and has failed to reach the semis only ONCE in his last 12 appearances. Moreover, he has extra impetus this season and has an opportunity to win one of the few missing trophies—a Davis Cup for Switzerland. 
Prediction: FINALS
 
It’s been a tough year post-surgery, but the Scott pushed like nobody else in the end to seal his spot for the seventh year in a row. He still has an impressive 58 match wins, and won at Shehnzen, Vienna and Valencia in close succession to close out a dark year. Looks in good form though, but not solid enough to challenge the top 2. 
Prediction: SEMIFINALS
 
Kei Nishikori (7)
He is the first Asian player to compete in this tournament, after enjoying a breakout year, reaching his first Slam Final and losing to Cilic. He defeated World no. 1 Djokovic in the semis at the US Open, pulling off perhaps the upset of the season. He also defeated Federer at Miami, and has won a career-best 3 titles for the year. He will be the ‘dark horse’ here, but will be worried about his fitness—after retiring several times this season due to a groin-injury. 
Prediction: GROUP STAGES
 
Milos Raonic (8)
The last player to qualify, after enjoying a last gasp breakout tournament at Paris, defeating Federer in the quarters, losing to Djokovic in the Final. He won just one title for the year, but remained consistent, and ended with a strong performance. However, his returns are questionable, and other than his strong serve, his game has glaring weaknesses. 
Prediction: GROUP STAGES
 
*Rafael Nadal (3) pulled out due to his appendix surgery. 

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