Monday, November 23, 2015

Some Thoughts Following the ATP World Tour Finals

Djokovic continues to win when it matters:  Roger Federer may have beaten Djokovic three times during the 2015 season, but Djokovic dominated this rivalry when it mattered most.  Just as he did at the US Open and Wimbledon, Djokovic was able to top Federer in the finals here despite a loss to Federer in the round-robin stage.  Djokovic completed one of the finest seasons in recent memory (if not tennis history), and at the moment lacks a serious rival.  Maybe Nadal or Murray will make adjustments and become better equipped to deal with the world number one in 2016, but if not look for Djokovic to be almost as dominant in 2016.  If Djokovic doesn't win at least 2 majors next year it will be a pretty big surprise, and Djokovic probably thinks he has a somewhat realistic shot at wining all four. 

A disappointing showing for Murray:  Based on Murray's previous comments it's clear his end of the year priority was winning the Davis Cup title rather than the ATP World Tour Finals.  He was afraid he'd be worn down from the event, and wouldn't have enough time to practice on clay before the Davis Cup finals.  After Murray's lackluster performance in the group stage he didn't even make the semifinals, so at least he'll have plenty of time to get ready on the clay.  Murray simply got blitzed by Nadal and fell to Wawrinka in a match that decided who would reach the semis.  (He did have a win over Ferrer, who went 0-3 at the event).  Murray was consistent throughout the year and will end 2015 as the number two player in the world, but once again he got knocked out of an important tournament earlier than many expected.

Nadal continued his good form:  Nadal had been heating up heading into the ATP World Tour Finals, and should be mostly encouraged by his performance.  He swept his matches in the group stage, before falling to Djokovic in the semis.  Nadal may not believe he can compete with Djokovic at the moment, but he's got to think he can return to number two in the world in 2016.  He just beat Murray and Wawrinka indoors, Federer will be another year older, and there's not many other obvious challengers.  There were plenty of down moments during the year for Nadal, but a strong World Tour Finals should boost his confidence heading into 2016.

Ferrer's days playing this event may be over:  Ferrer is one of the best competitors in tennis, but he was clearly overmatched by the superior competition at this event.  He's been a staple in the top 8 for the last several years, but is vulnerable to sliding back next year.  He'll turn 34 during 2016, and his physical game won't get any easier to play as he gets older.  It won't be for lack of effort, but don't be surprised if Marin Cilic or Milos Raonic steals Ferrer's spot at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2016.

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