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Sunday, 15 November 2015

ATP World Tour Finals Day 1 Picks 2015 (November 15th)

The final tournament of the 2015 Tennis Tour is here and then it will just down to the Davis Cup Final before we have a six week break and the beginning of the 2016 season.

It has been a fun year, one that might be looked back as the big one for Novak Djokovic rather than Serena Williams despite it looking like being a 'Serena Slam' year in the making.

How funny is it to now look back and think Novak Djokovic came closer to achieving the calendar Grand Slam than Serena Williams? All the talk was of the latter going into the US Open, but you have to say Djokovic's season has been the stronger in a much tougher field and it is hard to look beyond the World Number 1 achieving one more big title to underline his season.

The layers agree with Novak Djokovic a big favourite to take the title here- his recent performances have seen him comfortably see off so many of the field that have got together in London.

A Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer looks the most likely event out of the week despite the two being placed in the same Group. Kei Nishikori is definitely not 100% here, while Tomas Berdych has regularly found himself coming up short against the very best players on the Tour through the 2015 season.

The other Group is much more difficult to call with Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka all likely to have belief in their ability to get through to the Semi Finals. Murray's focus might be on the the Davis Cup Final coming up, which could mean the other three may surprise by helping knock out the British Number 1.

Then again, Murray has been in pretty good form himself and the matches with Nadal and Wawrinka look like being the key ones in the Group and I am looking forward to visiting the O2 Arena later in the week to catch some of these matches.

The first matches up in that Group B are between Murray-Ferrer and Nadal-Wawrinka... The latter could be a decisive one already as to who makes it through to the Semi Final and it looks a cracker in the making if their match in Paris is anything to go by.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v Kei Nishikori: I think Kei Nishikori has got plenty of talent that could see him challenge for a Grand Slam title in the coming years, but one big concern has to be his physical well-being. He comes into the World Tour Finals with concerns about a shoulder and that won't bode well when taking on the World Number 1 in the opening match of the tournament.

Matches between Novak Djokovic and Nishikori have been competitive in the past in terms of needing to go the distance, but recent meetings have seen Djokovic out-last him physically and pull away in the decider. Djokovic has won all three matches against Nishikori since losing to him in the 2014 US Open Semi Final and there have been plenty of one-sided sets in his favour in that time too.

He is playing with plenty of confidence at the moment and Djokovic has produced a lot of winning matches by big margins as he is playing better on serve and return than most. If Nishikori is healthy to go having pulled out in Paris, he could give Djokovic something to think about, but it is hard to oppose the World Number 1 on current form.

Djokovic beat Nishikori by an eight game margin last year in the Semi Final at the World Tour Finals and I think he will enjoy the slightly slower indoor hard court conditions. With the injury to Nishikori in mind, I can see Djokovic creating all the chances to break serve during the course of the match and eventually prevailing 63, 63 to put himself in a strong position in the Group after one match.

Roger Federer - 3.5 games v Tomas Berdych: A disappointing early exit at the Paris Masters might have ended Roger Federer's hopes of finishing as the World Number 2 this season, but a big week here could change things. There has been no hiding from the fact that Federer knows it is a big achievement for him to finish at World Number 2 with those Seedings likely to go into the Australian Open next January, but he can get over the disappointment of Paris at a tournament he has enjoyed playing in.

The key for his qualification is likely to be this match as Roger Federer has had trouble when facing Tomas Berdych in the past. However, both of Federer's wins over Berdych have been relatively straight forward in 2015 and I think he will be confident he can set up a big match with Novak Djokovic on Tuesday.

No disrespect is intended towards Berdych who is the player who has challenged Novak Djokovic the most since the US Open when losing two tie-breakers to him in Paris. However, Berdych has found the top players a little too good this season and some of those losses have been one-sided as have both of those to Roger Federer.

When Berdych serves well he can be very dangerous, but the slower conditions in the O2 Arena might affect his game more than Roger Federer's and I think the latter's aggression is key to the match. I would look for Federer to get his teeth into a couple of the Berdych service games and use surprise tactics to attack the net which can end up paying dividends.

I expect some up and down moments from both players, but I like Federer to come through with a solid 63, 76 win.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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