World number two Novak Djokovic is looking to reclaim his world number one ranking from Andy Murray, and he is also on a quest to win the ATP World Tour Finals in London for a fifth consecutive year, and record-equalling sixth time. The Serb's campaign got off to a positive start by prevailing in three sets against debutant Dominic Thiem.
Milos Raonic reached his first Grand Slam singles final at Wimbledon in July, and he shrugged off injury fears that ruled him out of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris a few weeks ago, by defeating another debutant in sixth seed Gael Monfils in straight sets, and the fourth-seeded Canadian has the chance to end year at a career-high ranking of three in the world.
Djokovic and Raonic will do battle for the eighth time, and the 12-time Grand Slam champion leads 7-0 in their head-to-head meetings, dropping a solitary set in the process.
Djokovic's progression in London so far
The four-time defending champion lost his world number one ranking to three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray due to a failure to defend points at Wimbledon, the US Open, Shanghai and Paris and Murray's remarkable run that seen him claim titles in Vienna, Shanghai, Basel, and Paris.
In his opening round match, the Serb saved six set points in the opening set tiebreak against Thiem but he was unable to snatch the set from the Austrian in an entertaining tiebreak. However, Djokovic was given a warning from the chair umpire at the conclusion of the first set due to the frustration of losing that set, and he fired a ball into a crowd in the direction of his coaches Boric Becker and Marian Vajda which narrowly missed a spectator, and had that ball has hit the spectator, Djokovic would have been disqualified.
Nonetheless, the world number two regained his composure and defeated this year's French Open semifinalist 6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2.
Raonic's progression in London so far
The fourth seed is competing at the ATP World Tour Finals in London for the second time in three years, and the Canadian has recorded mixed results at the Slams in 2016 by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, fourth round of the French Open, final of Wimbledon but suffered a second round exit at the US Open.
Raonic was up against charismatic Frenchman Gael Monfils in his opening round robin match, and Monfils reached his second Grand Slam semifinal at Flushing Meadows this year, but the Canadian was dominant as he faced no break points, and served 12 aces in his 6-3, 6-4 victory to go top of the Ivan Lendl Group without a loss of a set.
As aforementioned, Djokovic and Raonic have met on seven occasions with the world number two winning all of their meetings, dropping only one set in the process. The Serb leads 4-0 on clay and 3-0 on hard courts.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion won their first encounter in a Davis Cup tie between Serbia and Canada in 2013, and it was a 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The duo met three times in 2014 with Djokovic recording victories in their semifinal encounter at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, quarterfinals of the French Open and in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters.
Djokovic won their solitary meeting in 2015 in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and it was a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 victory for the former world number one.
In 2016, they have met twice in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where Djokovic thrashed the Canadian 6-2, 6-0 and won their most recent meeting in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open in May.
The winner of this match will go top of Group Ivan Lendl with two victories in the bag, and virtually qualify for the semifinals, therefore, the stakes in this contest are high.
Djokovic is desperate to regain the world number one ranking and he will be successful in his bid to top the summit once again should he outperform Murray in London.
The Serb is the overwhelming favorite in this contest as he is unbeaten against Raonic, and Djokovic is a good returner and usually has success against big servers.
However, this match is played indoors with the conditions being ideal for both players, furthermore, Raonic will need to serve consistently like he did in his previous match against Monfils, and he will need to try to implement a different game plan against Djokovic by coming to the net and shortening the points as the Serb excels in long rallies from the baseline.
Raonic is a good returner in his own right but he has found it incredibly hard in the past to break Djokovic's serve, therefore, he will need to take more chances on the Serb's serve and he will need to capitalise on any chances that are given.
The Serb may have suffered uncharacteristic losses at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai and a quarterfinal defeat in Paris to Marin Cilic which saw him lost his world number one ranking but Djokovic looks fully focused and certainly will be difficult to beat in London this week.
This is the final match scheduled on Day Three of the ATP World Tour Finals, and this match will follow the doubles match between Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo and Treat Huey/Max Miryni, therefore, Djokovic and Raonic could be on the court at around 8pm local time.
Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets