ATP Finals Sunday Preview: Season Finale in London Ready to Begin4 min read
Kevin Anderson v Dominic Thiem (1400 GMT)
Neither man is at his best indoors but conditions here should favour Anderson.
Thiem tends to struggle on a faster surface and that’s what we should have here. Certainly he’s been unable to make much of an impact at The O2 in the past couple of years, winning only two matches (one of which was a dead rubber) and exiting in the group stage on both occasions.
He’s also generally struggled against Anderson, trailing the head to head 6-2, although admittedly he’s won both meetings this season. One of those came indoors in Vienna, but that venue plays considerably slower than this one.
Expect Thiem to be returning serve very deep with Anderson looking to keep him pinned well behind the baseline in the rallies.
The market makes this basically 50-50 call and in that scenario I’m happy to side with the Wimbledon runner-up.
Another potential angle is the first set going to a tie-break at 17/10. Five of the pair’s seven completed matches have featured a breaker, while nine of their last 16 completed sets have gone the distance.
With two big servers playing in fast conditions, it’s worth chancing that the opener goes the same way.
Anderson to win –
First set to go to a tie-break –
Roger Federer v Kei Nishikori (2000 GMT)
It’s fair to say Federer has not been at his best this autumn but he picked up in Paris and was within a whisker of beating Novak Djokovic.
His run in the French capital included a straight-sets win over Nishikori, a result which made it 4-0 to Federer in their indoor hardcourt series. Nishikori has only won one set in those matches.
The Japanese’s hopes of breaking a six-match losing streak against Federer rely on his strong return game, but things become tougher for him on a quicker court. Federer’s serve was pretty poor during his title run in Basel but it improved in Paris (Djokovic could not break it in their three-hour semi-final) and if he can keep his first serve percentage up in the 60s here, I’d expect it to be hard for Nishikori to make an impact.
Another straight-sets win seems fair enough at 8/11.
For those looking for a bigger price, 11/4 about Federer winning in straights, serving the most aces and the fewest double faults is worth considering.
I’ve already made the case for a 2-0 win, while he’s almost certain to serve more aces. The key will be the double faults aspect but Nishikori has served more in four of their nine clashes, with two ‘draws’.
Federer to win 2-0 –