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Friday, 8 November 2013

World Tour Finals Day 5 Picks 2013 (November 8th)

The 2013 tennis season is drawing to a close and we now have two players already in the Semi Final after Novak Djokovic joined Rafael Nadal in the last four on Thursday evening. Djokovic has certainly looked the most impressive player so far and has won Group B, so will know exactly who he will face in the Semi Final on Sunday after the Friday matches are completed.

Group A is still up in the air compared with B as there are a number of different scenarios that could determine positions in the section. As far as I am aware, Stanislas Wawrinka cannot win the Group, but there is a situation where Tomas Berdych can win the Group and Rafael Nadal would finish second if all the players finish with the same number of wins on Friday evening.

The only thing we know for sure is that David Ferrer has been knocked out after a long season finally seemed to catch up with him physically and he can already begin thinking about where he wants to go on holiday to try and recharge for a long season. As an admirer of the way Ferrer has approached his career on the Tour, I don't want to write off the Spaniard too early, but I think he could be one of the players that will really have to battle to get back to this tournament in London in twelve months time.

Ferrer has definitely looked like he has slowed down during the latter part of 2013 (ever since the French Open Final I would say) and I am not sure if that was down to him carrying an injury or something more permanent for a player on the wrong side of 30 years of age. I would love to be wrong, but I can see Ferrer slipping down the Rankings in 2014 and I wouldn't be hugely surprised if he was to miss the World Tour Finals at the end of 2014.

The other talking point of the week so far was surrounding the ban that was given to Victor Troicki for missing a drugs test- it has been announced this week that the ban has been reduced to 12 months from the initial 18 months, but that hasn't gone down well with his friend Novak Djokovic. The World Number 2 was adamant that Troicki hadn't done anything wrong and that the blame likes with the Control Officer that had allegedly told Troicki he could skip the test as he was unwell and offer a sample the next day, which  was passed.

Djokovic was very upset with his friend having to miss a year, especially after he was also barred from being in the stadium for a Davis Cup match in September, but Roger Federer wasn't as sympathetic to the situation when talking about it after his win over Richard Gasquet. For Federer it was a much more black and white situation, but it will be interesting how that goes down in the Djokovic camp.

There has been a feeling of tension between those two players in the past, while other players have said in a roundabout way that Federer doesn't help with matters concerning the players as much as someone of his high-profile should. Even Rafael Nadal hinted as such back at the Australian Open in 2012 and this Troicki discussion is the not the first time Federer has disagreed with the two leading players on the men's Tour.

The schedule, the blue clay in Madrid last year and even whether the World Tour Finals should be moved from London at the end of the current contract has seen Federer and Nadal/Djokovic offer differing views and I do wonder if there is more tension there than they openly admit. In saying that, Federer wins a lot of awards from his peers so who knows?!!

Stanislas Wawrinka - 3.5 games v David Ferrer: David Ferrer may have the lead in the head to head between these players, but it was Stanislas Wawrinka that won their most recent match and it is also the Swiss man who has looked more comfortable this week.

I really respect David Ferrer, but he has looked physically spent in his two matches so far and I think it is going to be tough for him to find the level of motivation to turn things around and win this match as he is out of the tournament no matter what happens.

Wawrinka has been serving well for most of the week and he is clearly relishing being at the World Tour Finals for the first time. He pushed Rafael Nadal all the way in the second match he played this week, but the critical match was the win over Tomas Berdych and I think he would be expecting Nadal to beat the Czech player again.

Usually I would consider this a tough match for Wawrinka as Ferrer has the game to extract errors, but it is the former that has played better so far and I expect him to do enough behind his own serve to keep the pressure on the Spaniard. While Ferrer may want to put in a big effort, it is a big ask for him to be ready physically for this match and I think Wawrinka will come through 64, 64.

Rafael Nadal - 3.5 games v Tomas Berdych: Rafael Nadal will win this Group as long as he wins one set in the match, but he has gotten the better of Tomas Berdych ever since their infamous match in Madrid, including once here in London at the World Tour Finals.

I don't believe Nadal is a player that is going to put in a poor effort, or just concentrate on winning one set in this match, although Tomas Berdych is certainly capable of posing his own problems for Nadal to figure out.

However, the big man can be guilty of overplaying the situation when it comes to break points or big moments in matches and the 11 sets in a row he has lost to Nadal doesn't bode well for his chances of qualifying for the Semi Finals. Berdych could be in a position where he has already qualified though if David Ferrer can surprise Stanislas Wawrinka in the first match of the day, but I can't see that coming if I am honest and that means he will have to win this match.

With that pressure on him, I can see Berdych perhaps being overly aggressive and making life difficult for himself in this one and that should play into Nadal's hands. The World Number 1 will have to serve better than he did against Wawrinka on Wednesday, but he has gotten the better of Berdych by proving to be the tougher player mentally and I do think that makes a difference again.

If Berdych loses a close, hard fought first set, it may be too much for him to come back and I think Nadal can come through 75, 63.

MY PICKS: Stanislas Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)

World Tour Finals Update: 4-4, + 4.46 Units (12 Units Staked, + 37.17% Yield)

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