Eight men are vying for one of tennis’ most prestigious titles at the O2 Arena for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. With how the eight men finished with their respective seedings, the opportunity for a “Group of Death” was very much alive. A group with either Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic, followed by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Kei Nishikori was a possibility. However as the draw came out, the groups eventually evened themselves out.
Just like the doubles groups, the singles groups are now named after former players as well. Group A is renamed Group Stan Smith after the Australian who won seven career Grand Slam titles, two in singles and five in doubles. Group B was renamed Group Ille Nastase after the Romanian who won seven career Grand Slam titles as well (two in singles, three in men’s doubles, and two in mixed) and is also one of five players in history to win more than 100 ATP World Tour titles.
Group Stan Smith
This group is composed of Djokovic, Federer, Tomas Berdych, and Kei Nishikori. The world number one and three are the two respective favorites to get out of the group having put up the best results of the year. The Serb won three Grand Slam titles and made all four finals. He won a record six Masters titles and made all the finals of the Masters events he chose to participate in. Federer on the other hand denied Djokovic of completing a career Golden Masters in Cincinnati and was runner-up to him in multiple events, including Wimbledon and the US Open.
Berdych has been a model of consistency throughout his career, qualifying for a sixth consecutive World Tour Finals. The Czech won two titles this year, Shenzhen and Stockholm, and made the second week of all four Slams, highlighted by his semifinal run at the Australian Open. Nishikori has finally emerged into the tennis star that everyone was hoping he would turn out to be. The Japanese number one won three titles this year, two of them in ATP 500 events in Washington D.C. and Barcelona. He was a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open and the French Open, and this is his second consecutive year qualifying for the event.
Group Ille Nastase
Murray leads the charge in this group which is very winnable for all four of the players here. Murray’s opponents are Stan Wawrinka, Nadal, and David Ferrer. Murray finished world number two and at least guarantees he won’t have to meet Djokovic until the semifinals should they both make it there. Despite finishing world number two, the Brit oft-finished second fiddle to Djokovic. Many times this year, the world number one defeated Murray, but the Scot notably took the victory at the Rogers Cup this summer.
Wawrinka is the only other player this season to win a Grand Slam title. He shocked the world during the French Open, defeating Djokovic in four sets in what was a fine masterpiece displayed by the Swiss number two. Nadal has had a down year in terms of winning, failing to win a Grand Slam and Masters title for the first time since 2004. Despite that, he still managed to finish number five in the world.
Ferrer rounds out the group, and he is a player that has just gotten better as he has gotten older. Ferrer won all five of the finals he made this year, with three of them coming in ATP 500 events. This is the sixth consecutive year he has qualified for the event and seventh time overall.