I can’t believe this is the last tournament of the season. Time really does fly. Although, I could really use a break from tennis, to be honest. It drained a lot of my energy.
Well, I was talking with Brodie to see which group I’d preview and I ended up taking Group B since according to him it would only make sense considering my new found love for Andy Murray. So, here we go.
Roger Federer 
This was a strange season for Federer. I mean, it started pretty well, but as you all know he didn’t have the same success as in the previous years. Still, he won two titles this fall, Stockholm and his beloved Basel. Fed was also runner-up in Shanghai where he lost to Murray and reached the semifinals in Paris for the first time. Anyways, he has assured a Top 2 finish for the record 8th consecutive year and his seeding for the Australian Open is safe. If we think about it, not that bad of a season, huh?
Fed comes into London pretty confident about his chances of winning the WTF. Given the surface and his record there (29-7), I can’t argue with that. It is pretty remarkable. 9th straight appearance, 4 titles (2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007) and the only time he failed to advance past RR was in 2008. He lost in SF last year, to Kolya.
Robin Soderling 
It has been a nice fall for Sod. He reached QF or better in all the tournaments and ultimately won Paris after saving 3 match points in the semis against Llodra. It was his 2nd title of the year (after Rotterdam) and his first Masters 1000 title. First Swede to win one since Enqvist (2000 – Cincinnati). This win got him a career high No.4.
It’s no surprise that indoors hard is Robin’s favorite surface. It just suits his game. And I can’t help but thinking he has a solid chance of going further in the WTF. It is his 2nd appearance and last year he lost in the semi to Delpo, scoring wins over Rafa and Nole in RR. His group is not easy (we’ll get to that in a bit) but he must be confident after winning Paris and let’s not forget that depending on a number of results he can finish the year as No.3 in the world. That would be a very motivating factor for me.
Andy Murray 
After a very disappointing USO losing to Stan in the 3rd round, Muzz reached Beijing’s QF. One week after, he captured the Shanghai title without dropping a set, against Federer. He then lost to Pico in Valencia and reached Paris QF where he fell to Gael.
Since he couldn’t defend his title in Valencia and Soderling won Paris, he has dropped to No.5 but the year-end ranking can still change. I like to think Muzz has a chance since he’s playing indoors and at home, but if Wimbledon is any indication, I might just be wrong.
This will be his 3rd straight appearance in the WTF. In his debut (2008), he lost the semi to Davydenko and had a perfect RR that included a 3 set win over Federer. Last year he failed to advance past the RR due to just one game difference. Remember when Muzz tweeted about it? Poor guy really didn’t have a clue.
David Ferrer 
What can I say about David? He has had an amazing season and should be really proud of it. We all know clay is his strongest surface. Although he wasn’t that consistent, he still managed to get some solid results on hard courts losing the Beijing final to Nole and winning his own tournament in Valencia against Granollers.
All together it gave him a Top 10 year-end for the 2nd time and a spot in the WTF.
This will be his second appearance in the last tournament of the season. He has a nice record (4-1) only losing to Fed in the 2007 final. He had wins over Rafa, Nole, Gasquet and A-Rod. Impressive, right? Poor guy, just couldn’t be more unlucky with his group. I don’t like to predict, though. Ferru has been surprising me the entire season. So, who knows what will happen.
Head To Head Previews
Sunday, November 21st, 2pm: Soderling vs. Murray
H2H: Soderling 2 – 2 Murray
Hard Court H2H: 2 – 2 (tied)
Last Meeting: Indian Wells 2010: Soderling d. Murray 6-1 7-6(4)
This is the only balanced H2H from this group. And two players with all to fight for rankings wise. All their meetings have been on hard courts with Soderling winning the last two in straight sets. In my opinion, this is one of the toughest matches to preview.
Murray should have home advantage, but (and it’s a big one) we all know how much pressure he feels when playing in London, so it could definitely work both ways. As for Robin, he comes from a huge win and his first Masters title, but could the chance to end the year as No. 3 will mess with his head? Or will this winning streak continue? Sod needs to be serving out of his mind and still might have problems considering Andy catches pretty much every single ball. Anyways, I think the key for this match will be their nerves. The guy that manages to keep his cool will probably come on top. Winner: Murray.
Sunday, November 21st, 8pm: Federer vs. Ferrer
H2H: Federer 10 – 0 Ferrer
Hard Court H2H: Federer 4 – 0
Last Meeting: Madrid 2010: Federer d. Ferrer 7-5 3-6 6-3
These two played each other once in 2010 and that was on clay in Madrid. Last time the boys met on hard courts was Cincinnati in 2009 where again they went the distance 3-6 6-3 6-4. However, Ferrer seems to be getting a little closer, taking a set off of Federer in three of their past four meetings. He had lost their previous six meetings in straight sets.
Let’s not forget that Roger’s last year-end title came after beating David in Shanghai. Maybe the Spaniard is ready to get his revenge. Nonetheless, I believe the Swiss experience and that he feels way more comfortable on hard courts will play a major role in this match. Winner: Federer.
Tuesday, November 23rd: Murray vs. Ferrer
H2H: Ferrer 3 – 1 Murray
Hard Court H2H: Murray 1 – 0
Last Meeting: Madrid 2010: Ferrer d. Murray 7-5 6-3
This is not an odd head to head if you consider 3 of their meetings were played on clay, two of them this year. Not only this is David’s best surface, but Andy’s clay season was even worse than usual in 2010.
The only time Andy beat David was in Toronto (2006). It’s been a while since they played each other on hard courts. It’s difficult to predict how that match will go, but I think it will be interesting to see how much their games have evolved. Although David had some solid results, Murray is clearly the best hard court player, so it’s impossible not giving him the edge on this one. Don’t count David out just yet. His fighting spirit has led to many wins. Winner: Murray.
Tuesday, November 23rd: Federer vs. Soderling
H2H: Federer 14 – 1 Soderling
Hard Court H2H: Federer 8 – 0
Last Meeting: Shanghai 2010: Federer d. Soderling 6-1 6-1
Honestly, I’m not sure why I was so surprised that Soderling has beaten Fed just once. I mean, he did it in Abu Dhabi but didn’t count since it was an exho. Everyone remembers when Robin’s win happened. 2010 in Roland Garros. They met twice more this year, both on hard court (QF – USO & Shanghai) with Federer winning.
Actually, from those 14 wins, 12 were in straights sets, one by retirement and another one in 4 sets. (Seriously!!) I don’t need to say the statistics clearly favor Federer, right? And the Swiss wants to end the year on a high note grabbing the last big title. On the other hand, Robin’s recent Paris run, might just help him overcome this hurdle. Winner: Federer.
Thursday, November 25th: Soderling vs Ferrer
H2H: Soderling 8 – 4 Ferrer
Hard Court H2H: Soderling 3 – 2
Last Meeting: Valencia 2010: Ferrer d. Soderling 6-3 3-6 6-3
They met 5 times this year. David won those two matches on hard courts, while Soderling won one in each surface. Their matches have been pretty good, but the surface benefits the Swede. Since David is one of the best returners on the tour, I think Robin’s serve needs to be super effective or he might get into trouble. Winner: Soderling
Thursday, November 25th: Federer vs Murray
H2H: Federer 5 – 8 Murray
Hard Court H2H: Murray 8 – 5
Last Meeting: Shanghai 2010: Murray d. Federer 6-3 6-2
All of their meetings were on hard courts being 3 of them played this year. Federer beat Andy in straight sets at the Australian Open, and the Scottish came out on top in Toronto and more recently in Shanghai. To be honest, I never know what to expect when they play each other. Federer has won each of their GS matches (2008 USO and 2010 AO), but Murray leads 3–1 in ATP 1000 tournaments. They have met twice in the WTF, with one win to each.
Murray has a legit shot against Federer, but he needs to play aggressive and never let his guard down. He’s the only other current top ten player to have a positive head to head record against Roger. Winner: Murray
So, my picks to reach SF are Federer and Murray. I really wish I could give David a shot in this group.
12 hours until London. Enjoy it guys!