The ATP World Tour Finals kick off today. It’s a Round Robin format to start with and we have the first two matches from group B today.
14:00 – Nishikori v Murray
Both players finished the regular season very well. Murray had a lot of work to do to qualify for this Finals. Back to back titles in Vienna and Valencia plus a quarter final last week at the Paris Masters will have taken its toll on his body. Of course he has had a little over a week to recover so he should be ok for this match.
Nishikori reached his first grand slam final at the US Open where he ran into Marin Cilic in ridiculously good form. Since then he also had back to back titles in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. He reached the semi finals at the Paris Masters to secure his place at the O2 Arena.
They have played 3 times and Murray has won all 3. However their last meeting was right at the start of the 2013 season and Nishikori retired from that match early in the second set.
Murray starts at 1.50 which seems way too low. Nishikori had a reputation of being fragile physically either after a long run of wins or towards the end of the season. However this season he appears to have worked hard on his fitness and stamina and when we have expected his body to break down in recent months he has fooled us and kept going.
I am favouring Nishikori for this one. The main thing against him is that this is his first appearance at the year end Finals and nerves could be a factor. Murray is also going to have the support of the home crowd despite his poor judgement regarding the Scottish Independence vote.
I think as long as Nishikori can get through any early nerves that he has the game to give Murray some real problems today.
20:00 – Federer v Raonic
Before the recent Paris Masters Federer was 6-0 against Raonic but when they met two weeks ago in that quarter final it was Raonic who got the win in straight sets.
That result all but ended Federer’s chances of taking the year end world number one ranking and he will be out for some revenge today.
The court looks very slow and the players in the first match are struggling to hit through one another’s defenses. That has to favour Federer as his return game is streets ahead of the Canadian’s.
The rallies will be longer than on a faster court and I don’t see Raonic being able to stay in those rallies.
Federer starts at 1.36 which isn’t over generous but I just don’t see a way for Raonic to beat him on this court.