By Ros Satar
- 12pm: Bob & Mike Bryan  v Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo 
- 2pm: Novak Djokovic  v Dominic Thiem 
- 6pm: Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares  v Treat Huey/Max Mirnyi 
- 8pm: Milos Raonic  v Gael Monfils 
- Click on featured players for stats from TennisAbstract
LONDON, ENGLAND – The season finale gets underway with at least one Murray in action, as defending champion Novak Djokovic opens the week’s play at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Novak Djokovic v Dominic Thiem – H2H: Djokovic leads 3-0
There is no doubt that the former World No. 1 and five time season-ending champion Djokovic has lost his way a little since his surprising loss in the third round of Wimbledon. By now we all know that perhaps a loss of motivation after achieving a career Grand Slam and a persistent elbow injury, have all contributed to a rough period.
Much (too much) has been made of his inclusion of Pepe Imaz to his team, but maybe of more interest is whether he will continue to working relationship with Boris Becker, who helped add the edge to bring a second period of Djokovic dominance.
The indoor courts at the O2 have been very suitable for Djokovic – he will be going for his fifth straight win in London and his sixth season-ending title overall, and of course we are in for a race to the finish to end year-end No. 1.
Against Thiem, he has always been in commanding form. While the young Austrian has improved a lot this year, he still has a lot to learn about getting his scheduling in check. Even after admitting to reporters in Cincinnati that he would be cutting back, a couple of wildcards appeared in his schedule. While age is on his side (for now) he has struggled at times with injury this year to his hip and knee.
This should be a nice opener for Djokovic – Thiem’s debut may well be quite rapid.
Prediction: Djokovic in two sets.
Milos Raonic v Gael Monfils – Monfils leads 3-2
The big question for Raonic is will he have recovered from a quad tear that saw him withdraw shortly before the Paris Masters semi-final, thus handing Andy Murray the World No. 1 spot. Injuries seem to plague the Canadian, and the frustration must be mounting.
This looked like it would be the year for Raonic – he made his first Slam final (losing to Murray at Wimbledon) and almost had Murray down and out at the start of the year in the Australian Open, having beaten Roger Federer to start the season with a win in Brisbane.
It looked as though he was targeting the big silverware when he brought John McEnroe on board, but even then his coach’s punditry commitments made things a little awkward at times but there is no doubt the combination of McEnroe and Carlos Moya has made solid positive changes to the Canadian’s game.
The London crowds will be in for a treat when Monfils comes to town – a natural crowd-pleaser with great athleticism and court coverage – he should look to exploit any cautiousness with movement that Raonic may have, should he play.
The Canadian is in London, and in fairness the Frenchman has not been immune to injuries himself this year. The edge might have to go to Monfils just on his head to head, with the most recent win going to him at the Rogers Cup quarter-final.
That being said, at this stage of the season it may be more like the battle of the walking wounded.
Prediction: Monfils in two sets.
The doubles line-ups open with Bob & Mike Bryan against Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, and the evening session sees British interest with Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares against Treat Huey/Max Mirnyi.
Play starts on Sunday at 12pm, with Djokovic and Thiem scheduled not before 2pm. The evening session starts at 6pm with Raonic v Monfils not before 8pm.
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