ATP World Tour Finals Group A Preview: Can Anyone Stop Novak Djokovic?

London’s O2 Arena is once again the site for the elite eight players of men’s tennis to conjure up an end-of-season extravaganza of breath-taking ball striking and intense emotion. After a brutally long and challenging year, the world’s top eight will attempt to muster together one last effort and claim the World Tour Finals title. The groups are set, the players are present in the English capital and the action gets underway this Sunday (9th November).

Comfortably leading the way and holding the favourite tag in Group A is current world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic. He’s being pushed hard at the top by Roger Federer but, as it stands, the Serb is in firm control of the year-end top ranking. Djokovic sits on 10,010 points, while the Swiss has 8,700, with a maximum 1,500 up for grabs in London. Federer also has points on offer in the Davis Cup final too though.

It’s fair to say that Djokovic will be wholly satisfied with his group draw though. It may contain all of 2014’s Grand Slam champions (excluding the appendicitis-recovering Rafa Nadal) but Novak’s head-to-head record against the other three players makes for ominous reading. He leads Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka 14-3, Czech Tomas Berdych 16-2 and US Open champion Marin Cilic a colossal 10-0. It would be a huge surprise if he doesn’t top this group.

Since beating Roger Federer to the Wimbledon title, Djokovic has also won in Beijing and Paris

Djokovic has had a terrific last few months. Most significantly, he became a father to his son Stefan. After winning at SW19 in an absorbing final with Mr Wimbledon himself, Roger Federer, he’s also won titles in Beijing and Paris. He didn’t drop a set in either of those tournaments. He’s currently on a 27-match indoor winning streak, which isn’t likely to end before the semi-final or final of this tournament.


Joining him in the group then, is world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka. Overall, it’s been the best year of his career, as he stunningly shredded through the ‘Big Four’ of the ATP Tour in winning his first major title in Australia back in January. He defeated Djokovic in a compelling five-set thriller, which was 9-7 in the fifth, to reach the semis. Then he took out Tomas Berdych, before getting the better of an injury-hit Rafa in the final.

That must feel like an awful long time ago though, after the Swiss No. 2 has endured a miserable run of form lately. In his last four tournaments, he’s won just one match. One noticeable area where his play has deteriorated is on the serve. In his run in Australia, it was very powerful and accurate but it’s gone off the boil recently.

But Stan can take comfort from the fact that he has beaten all of his group rivals at least once in 2014 so far. He has a strong winning record against Berdych and Cilic too. But if Wawrinka stole the show at the opening of the season, those two have left their strong play for the year’s latter stages.

Cilic absolutely blew through the field in New York, shocking the tennis world to win the US Open. With his giant serve thrashing down aces and unreturnables with ease, he defeated Berdych, Federer and Nishikori in straight sets in the last three matches.

As Wawrinka will testify though, staying at that highest level is extremely hard. The Croat will come into London feeling fresh though, after not having to put a lot of effort into qualifying like some of the other players like Tomas Berdych.


The H&M-wearing Czech has really steadied his game over the last few weeks to book a place at the O2. He won the title in Stockholm, reached the final in Beijing and the semis in Paris. That Beijing final will not fill him with confidence though, as he was slaughtered 6-0 6-2 by Group A rival Novak Djokovic, in what was very nearly a ‘double bagel’.

This first World Tour Finals group is very much on the racquet of the two-time defending champion Djokovic. He should stroll into the semi-finals based on current form. But that’s why we watch sport, isn’t it? Anything can happen, particularly in a best-of-three set match.

Second place in the group is there for the taking. With Wawrinka really off his game, Berdych and Cilic have a great chance of getting through to the last four

Second place in the group is there for the taking though. With Wawrinka, the second highest seed in Group A, really off his game, Berdych and Cilic have a great chance of getting through to the last four. The Czech has been vastly improved recently and if Cilic can reproduce his Grand Slam-winning form, the matches between those three players could be tight.

Group A action gets underway from Monday, with Berdych and Wawrinka being the matinee performance, and the two most recent major winners Djokovic and Cilic taking centre stage in the evening programme.


Matt McGladrigan

Follow Matt on Twitter for updates throughout the tournament: @mattmcgladrigan

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Read Stephen’s Group B Preview here…


21-year-old Ameri-Czech student of Politics & Economics at the University of Nottingham. Sports Editor @impactmagazine. FFC worshipper. European.

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