Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.
Well we hate to break it to you, tennis fan, but tennis season is really pretty much over.
Oh you could have figured that one out just by looking at the calendar up on your wall: there’s only six weeks and change before it turns to 2018, meaning that there can only be six more weeks of tennis this season. Smart like that.
But really, it’s much more dire than this, tennis fan: last week was the Next Gen Challenge, this week we have the Nitto ATP Finals and at the end of the month is the Davis Cup Final. Then nada. Six more weeks to go, but only three events to write about. But that’s my problem.
So yes, here we are in London for the aforementioned ATP Finals. It’s already started but really, we haven’t learned all that much from the two matches played. Let’s see if we can assess who are favourites and who’s just glad to have made it to see another day.
Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
Maybe you’ve heard of this pair? You know, about a thousand and change combined tour wins, more or less all of the Grand Slam titles in the world, two overall great guys and great ambassadors of the sport and, most importantly in the eyes of their biggest diehard fans, such great, great great gentlemen.
Neither Rafael Nadal nor Roger Federer have ever met a controversial opinion they couldn’t dodge, so of course the above video exists. Your move, Roger… But, like, yeah it’s probably a Nadal versus Federer final that awaits us. We won’t mind.
The next-in-line: Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem
Sure, Dominic Thiem is much older than Alexander Zverev and for that, his ceiling is lower probably than the German, but whatever. For this 2017 season at least, he’s the next in line along with the 20-year-old. By which we mean: he and Zverev will finish behind everyone’s favourite BFFs from above in the two groups and make the semifinals.
New Tomas Berdych: Marin Cilic
We promise, we mean this as a compliment. While there was a time when Tomas Berdych was capable of just about any possible results on any given week, he has recently established himself as one of the most regular players on the tour and year after year is basically the fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth wheel at the top. He’s not in London this year, but that’s okay because Marin Cilic is basically a new version of Berdych. (Maybe a Berdych 2.0, sure, since he’s got the one Grand Slam title.)
Baby Fed: Grigor Dimitrov
We’re not expecting much from Grigor Dimitrov this week, but we’re contractually obligated to mention that he’s got the game (and the results if we’re entirely honest) of a baby Roger Federer.
Happy to be here: David Goffin, Jack Sock
Honestly, David Goffin and Jack Sock could surprise plenty of us this week. But a “Possible surprise” category doesn’t really sound all that fun. These two are each probably the fourth favourite of their respective group, so we’ll go with the “Happy to be here” moniker.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG