By Ros Satar

  • 12pm: Pierre-Hugues Herbert [1] v Raven Klaasen/Rajeev Ram [7]
  • 2pm: Stan Wawrinka [3] v Kei Nishikori [5]
  • 6pm: Feliciano & Marc Lopez [4] v Henri Kontinen/John Peers [5]
  • 8pm: Andy Murray [1] v Marin Cilic [7]
LONDON, ENGLAND – Andy Murray makes his court debut as World No.1 as he opens Monday’s night session at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

 

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Stan Wawrinka [3] v Kei Nishikori [5] – H2H: Wawrinka leads 4-2

Wawrinka could be the one to watch in this group – never seemingly rated until suddenly he winds up in a Slam final and upsets the odds, Wawrinka ought to have come into this as a rock solid bet for the semi-finals. He backed up his US Open win with a run to the St Petersburg final, where he lost out to Alexander Zverev, but his showings since then have been a little disappointing.

His record in London has been impressive since his debut in 2013. He has made the semi-final of each edition since then, and this could well be a year to make a push for the final. Wawrinka has proved now that he is a big-stage player and has a comfortable start in prospect with a decent head to head lead over Nishikori.

After the disappointment of having to retire in just his second round at his home tournament of Tokyo, Nishikori turned his fortunes around on his return with a run to the final of Basel, but his success was short-lived in Paris.

His debut in London saw him reach the semi-final but he was unable to back that up last year, not getting out of the round robin stages with just a single win. His first win over Wawrinka was part of his memorable run to the US Open final and they can put on quite the show. Wawrinka’s aggressive baselining meets quick-footed Nishikori’s placement and angles, and this could be a tough match to start in a tough group.

Prediction: Wawrinka in three sets.

 

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Andy Murray [1] v Marin Cilic [7] – H2H: Murray leads 11-4

Expect a rousing reception as Murray takes to the court as the new World No. 1 on home turf. There is no doubt this is one tough group to come out of, and Murray by his own admission has not always played his best tennis by the time the season finale rolls around.

He reached the semi-finals of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, as it was then, and twice at the O2, but has failed to find his way out of the group stages four times. There is no doubt that since winning Wimbledon, Murray’s throughput in the latter half of the year has been astonishing. Olympic Gold, Cincinnati final, Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris Masters titles.

The big concern is whether he is fatigued – after all many fans will remember his gallop around Europe to battle just to make the World Tour Finals in 2014, and then being virtually dead on his feet. However where then he was trying to regain the feeling of winning again, now it seems common-place.

Murray is on another winning run and was tested in the Paris final against John Isner, and although he has been drawn into a tough group, he enjoys a comfortable head to head over the Croatian, but lost to him at the Cincinnati Masters. By then though, it is worth pointing out he was on a 22-match winning streak. Will the Croatian be the one to end this streak?

Cilic may look awkward at times with his movement, but generates a lot of power with his attacking baseline play and obviously looks to gain a lot of free serves on both his serves. However against one of the best returners in the business now at the top of his game, he will need to ready himself for the long haul.

He comes in with some confidence of his own. As well as the Cincinnati Masters title, he won the title in Basel and made the semi-final in Paris so an easy win is by no means assured and punters had better have their Oyster cards ready for the sprint to the Underground after a hefty match.

Prediction: Murray in three sets.

The doubles line-ups open with top seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut against Raven Klaasen/Rajeev Ram, and the evening session starts with Feliciano & Marc Lopez v Henri Kontinen/John Peers.

Play starts on Sunday at 12pm, with Wawrinka and Nishikori scheduled not before 2pm. The evening session starts at 6pm with Murray v Cilic not before 8pm.

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