2018 end of season: ATP Masters Finals in London/Davis Cup final

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Post by MrInvisible on Sun 04 Nov 2018, 11:30 pm

As we wind down towards the end of the year I thought I'd combine ATP finals and Davis Cup final in one thread.

On the latter, it is going to be a bit of a historic final - the last one before the new fangled format takes shape next year. Defending champions France will be up against Croatia at home in Lille - interestingly on an indoor claycourt - slightly odd choice as both Cilic and Coric are comfortable on the red stuff. France have of course great strength in depth, but Croatia are capable of an upset, if Cilic doesn't over-exert himself at the ATP finals in London.

On the ATP finals its difficult to see anything other than a Djokovic win, though Federer may take heart from pushing him close in Paris. After a run of some fairly lacklustre ATP finals tournaments at London last year was pretty good fun - lots of 3 setters, a surprise package in Sock and some enjoyable tennis served up by Goffin and Dimitrov (remember them?). Other than Djokovic and Federer, assuming Nadal doesn't play (or is below par), I'd tip Nishikori to reach the semis, with potentially Anderson or Thiem getting through to last 4 too. This will probably be Anderson's one and only appearance at the finals, so I'm expecting him to be more motivated than some of the other players. Really not expecting much from Zverev, and Cilic, who has under-performed here with all those close 3 set losses will probably have 1 eye on the Davis Cup final.

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Post by sirfredperry on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 7:20 pm

Rafa has pulled out and will use the time off to have an ankle operation. He rarely completes a full season and this is the umpteenth time he's failed to compete in the yr-end championship.
At least Rog and Djoko will be in separate groups now. A possible Isner-Anderson match is in prospect now (with spectators being issued with crash helmets.) Djoko is assured of number one for a while now. Can he pass Roger's 310 weeks?

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Post by MrInvisible on Tue 06 Nov 2018, 2:41 pm

Groups have been announced. In the 'Guga Kuerten' group we have:
Djokovic, Zverev, Cilic, Isner

In the 'Lleyton Hewitt' group its:
Federer, Anderson, Thiem, Nishikori

Things look to be pretty straightforward for Djokovic in his group - Cilic is capable of pushing him to 3 sets but has a poor record in the head-to-head, whilst I'm expecting Zverev to be the whipping boy of the group. In theory you'd expect Cilic rather than Isner to qualify, but the Croat may have 1 eye on the forthcoming Davis Cup final.

Federer has a tougher group, but should still qualify. Anderson has been in the form of his life this year and will be extra motivated in what is likely to be his one and only ATP finals appearance, whilst Thiem has avoided his usual 2nd half of season capitulation and has improved on faster surfaces this year. Nishikori is no pushover either. I'm going for Federer and Anderson to qualify.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 07 Nov 2018, 6:10 pm

Not much in it as far as the groups are concerned. Cilic last year I seem to recall was in winning positions in all three of his matches and contrived to lose them all. It's astonishing how often that seems to happen with him.
The Federer group are playing first which gives them a day off before the semis. I'm taking Djoko, Zverev and Fed to make the semis. The other semi finalist from Fed's group could be anyone.

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 6:20 pm

While we await the year-end championship at the O2, I wonder if anyone really gives a fxxx about the next-generation thing that is going on at the moment. Total irrelevance. Only good thing about it is the fact that it's a non-ranking tournament: plus it gives organisers a chance to try out innovations.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 9:08 am

No I haven't seen the next - generation thing (a tournament?).

Kudos to old man Federer - getting to yet another end of year ATP finals tournament and remaining competitive.  Kudos for Djokovic for his comeback.  I am not sure whether this is prime Djokovic (age and elbow wise).  Has he fully recovered from his elbow condition?  I guess as the body ages and more miles are put on the clock all the body joints begin to cause problems as they wear out.   Nadal is battling away - so this time it seems that he has an ankle issue to recover from.

This success in their post-30 years for me confirms the unprecedented nature of the "top four era".  I hope Andy Murray is able to make a comeback so that he is challenging for top titles again - but so far the jury is out as to whether this is going to happen.  I assume that Wawrinka is now not going to be returning to a level that will enable him to challenge for grand slam titles again.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 9:31 am

As the year-end championships start, Djoko is clear favourite for another title, with Fed second favourite. Can anyone stop them? Possibly Zverev. May be Anderson. The fact that last year Dimi and Goffin emerged as the finalists shows surprises can happen.
Murray has been speaking about his fitness. Says each day things are getting better, which is positive. It will soon be time to make predictions for 2019. I've been reading thru the posts for the 2018 predictions. Very interesting.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 9:52 am

For next year I am expecting Thiem, Coric, Tsitsipas, Khachanov, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev, Shapovalov to make further improvements in their games.

I have been disappointed with Krygios progress as well as Hyeon Chung (too many injuries). I think people like Kyle Edmund is maximising his potential and am not sure how much further he can progress - I think top 20 is maybe maximising his potential. He is very likely to drop points at AO 2019. I am not 100% convinced that Zverev is going to be a major player in winning grand slams (unconvinced of his biomechanics).

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Post by MrInvisible on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 10:18 pm

Anderson beat Thiem 6-3 7-6 and now looking good to reach the semis, whilst Federer lost to Nishikori 7-6 6-3 and is in danger of going out before the end of the group stage. If he does fail to progress it does have a beginning of the end feel for Federer, given how successful he has been at this tournament over the years.

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Post by sirfredperry on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 8:50 am

Saw the end of the Fed match and he looked completely out of sorts. Said afterwards the court was playing slow. Needs to win his next two matches now and even that may not be enough depending on other scores.

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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 5:13 pm

After Djoko bt Isner last night, Anderson demolished Nishi this afternoon for the loss of just one game.
Fed will be out if he loses to Thiem tonight. But such are the vagaries of these finals that he could lose to Anderson and still go through.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 7:45 am

Fed still alive after that straight-sets win over Thiem. By my reckoning all four could still qualify but Anderson only needs to win one set and Thiem would need to win in straight sets and hope Fed lost in straight sets. (I think that's right).

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Post by MrInvisible on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 1:04 pm

Fair to say that the tournament's not really come alive yet - having paid through the nose for tickets previously at the O2 I pity the spectators who must feel a bit shortchanged. Last year is the only time in last 4 or 5 years when I found the tournament particularly enjoyable with lots of 3 setters.

On a more positive note, wanted to put in a mention for Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, through to the doubles semi-finals already.

Onto today's matches, Zverev takes on Djokovic whilst Cilic will play Isner. Zverev did well to take his changes and beat Cilic in straight sets, and ought to reach the semis now. However, whilst I think he will give Djokovic a good match on what could potentially be one of the best matches of this lacklustre tournament, I think the Serb will prevail, possibly in 3 sets. I think Cilic v Isner could go to 3 sets - difficult one to call - normally you'd go for Cilic, but he does struggle to close out matches these days. Surely there will be at least one, possibly 2 tie-breaks.

Am I being way too optimistic going for two 3 setters today?

Was v important for Federer to win in straight sets, but Anderson won't give him an easy match. Will go for Federer in 3 sets. I'm still sticking with both players to progress from this group.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 6:36 pm

Zverev practically chucked in the towel at the end of the Djoko match. Very disappointing and I suppose there is a chance he won't reach the semis now.
Very tired players just going thru the motions this year, it seems. This tournament was supposed to provide a thrilling climax to the season with the number one at stake. It's only happened that way, I think, twice. Disappointment for those who've bought tickets.

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Post by No name Bertie on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 10:17 pm

I assume the O2 arena gets sold out early in the year before the final eight is decided. It's in London, people are visiting London all the time, and many would pre-plan watching some tennis during their stay etc. I guess it is the sponsorship of the event and the television receipts that will eventually take a hit once the last of the big four retire.

I personally for some time have found the women's game unwatchable because of the squawking etc. Once the connection is broken, the interest is broken.

I personally find the drama as exciting as the skill sets on display. By all accounts the first set between Djokovic and Zverev was a tight affair, and the second set less so.

Cilic vs Isner has gone into a third set with Cilic a break up.

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Post by No name Bertie on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 10:32 pm

Cilic wins and Djokovic is through to the semi-finals.

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Post by MrInvisible on Thu 15 Nov 2018, 4:03 pm

Thiem beat Nishikori to keep alive his hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Federer now only needs a set against Anderson in their match this evening to be sure of qualifying himself.

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 15 Nov 2018, 6:17 pm

Fed actually only needs five games (six games if one set goes to 7) to progress. Could even top the group with a straight-sets win. Nishi seems to have totally imploded - winning just six games in his last two matches. Wondered if that is the least number of games won in a two-match sequence at the year-end finals?

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 15 Nov 2018, 9:43 pm

Federer bt Anderson 4 and 3 to top the group and probably avoid Djokovic in the semi-final.

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Post by sirfredperry on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 7:40 am

The two wins Federer has had this week are, somewhat remarkably, the first he's had against a top-10 opponent since February at Rotterdam (def Dimi).
Rog has actually only played four matches against top 10ers between Rotterdam and London, losing twice to Djoko and once to Anderson and Delpo.

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Post by lags72 on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 12:16 pm

Spent a most enjoyable day at the 02 yesterday, attending both sessions.

High quality tennis throughout (these guys do look like they’ve played the game a bit .... Very Happy ), with star billing of course being the appearance of The Fed at 8pm, when the crowd were certainly enthused. Always good to see him on court .... not sure just how many more chances there might realistically be, with the big 40 drawing closer.

Probably Djoko’s title for the taking given how strong he has been in recent months. A re-match of his clash with Rog in Paris would be no bad thing, especially if they can both bring their A game again.

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Post by MrInvisible on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 5:28 pm

@lags: Glad you enjoyed it yesterday and hope the 02 security staff were more efficient than when I was there with some seriously long queues leading to many folk missing large part of the tennis.

In the semis its going to be intriguing to see how well Zverev can do against Federer. Admittedly I foolishly predicted he would flop this tournament, but clearly I'd forgotten how good he is in best of 3 format. If he can beat Federer that should set him up nicely for 2019, and show evidence that the link up with Lendl is starting to pay dividends. Will still go for Federer v Djokovic final, but out of the 2 semis Zverev has the better chance of springing an upset.

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Post by sirfredperry on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 9:09 pm

Djoko takes first set 7-6 (7) against Cilic tonight. Zverev was impressive against Isner. Will he be able to serve as well against Fed in the semi?

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 17 Nov 2018, 8:46 am

Fed v Zverev could be a terrific match. I think Fed will make Z work a bit harder on Z's service games than Isner did. Yes, Zverev could win and everyone will remember how Goffin upset Rog in last year's semi, but I'm going for a Djoko-Fed final.

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Post by lags72 on Sat 17 Nov 2018, 4:13 pm

Well it was a quality match - and a fully-deserved win by the impressive Zverev.

Federer’s serving stats today were below par ; and that invariably leads to errors in other aspects of his game. But he also produced some very good stuff at times this week (not least, as the oldest guy in the top 100, who qualified comfortably yet again for WTF. One wonders if we will see him here next year ....... ?)

@ MrInvisible - can understand what you mean about security queues. I wasn’t unduly affected myself, though perhaps I was just lucky with my actual arrival times for each of the sessions.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 17 Nov 2018, 4:28 pm

Zverev dictated most of the rallies today. You had the impression that Fed was waiting for Z to make a mistake rather than trying to take the initiative. Not enough first serves in from Fed, but he can take heart from a good season. Surely, few were expecting him to do as well this year as he did in 2017.


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Post by sirfredperry on Sun 18 Nov 2018, 7:41 pm

Well, something of turn-up for the books, with Zverev taking out Djoko in straight sets. The Serb hadn't lost serve all week, but was broken four times tonight. He looked a bit out of sorts at the end (illness, injury?). But full marks to Z who rallied very effectively and served well in the first set.

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Post by lags72 on Sun 18 Nov 2018, 7:43 pm

Well that really was a very convincing win.

Not too many guys take down Federer and Djokovic back-to-back.

Great year for Novak, but ends the season beaten in two big successive Finals - and by members of the new generation. In the end, he couldn’t stay with Zverev.

Sasha Zverev   clap  clap
Massive victory, you join some stellar names on the ATP roll of honour of past Champions thumbsup thumbsup

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Post by sirfredperry on Sun 18 Nov 2018, 9:23 pm

Zverev won't be 22 until May 2019. He really must push on next season and go deep in the slams. He's going to be highly ranked for most of the year following tonight's triumph.
With his serve and his speed about the court there is really no reason why he can't go on to be a multiple GS winner. Is it any co-incidence that he picks up his biggest trophy yet just after welcoming Lendl on board?

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Post by lags72 on Sun 18 Nov 2018, 11:01 pm

Yes, he does need to push on, and become a serious Slam contender. This is the second time he has ended the year as World No. 4, which proves he is consistent. He has given himself a very solid platform from which to build.

Lendl really could be the vital piece of the Zverev jigsaw in terms of making the next-stage breakthrough, which has surely edged ever closer based on today’s confident performance.

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Post by MrInvisible on Sun 18 Nov 2018, 11:48 pm

In the end, whilst it wasn't the most memorable ATP finals on the whole we did end up with an interesting finale.

Firstly, to mention a close doubles final, with Bryan/Sock edging out Herbert/Mahut in the deciding 3rd set tie-break.

On Zverev v Djokovic, the young German was fired up, serving phenomenally, and taking the initiative. I also think he will have surprised Djokovic how he played the big points.

Agreed that appointing Lendl is a v smart move for Zverev, who is looking increasingly toughrt mentally. On the slams he needs to conserve energy in the earlier rounds, and he has lost matches to other up and coming younger players. As he continues to develop his physical strength that ought to give him more confidence (played, and won, a lot of 5 setters this year) in the longer matches.

I don't see Zverev winning a slam in 2019 but he does look a threat at 3 of the 4 slams (not sure about Wimbledon just yet) and I would expect at Roland Garros he'll be vying with Thiem to win it once Nadal and Djokovic are out of the way.

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Post by sirfredperry on Mon 19 Nov 2018, 9:18 am

Delpo is injured and Zverev has ended 2018 only a few points behind Fed who will possibly lose a lot of points at the 2019 AO. Better performances by the young German in the Slams will see him getting even closer to the top.
Djoko may have missed out on the max points at his last two tournaments but should stay at number one for many weeks now.

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Post by Calder106 on Mon 19 Nov 2018, 11:51 am

Zverev has now won 3 Masters 1000 events and the ATP finals having beaten Djokovic in two and Federer in one of the finals so has a great record for his age. If he can work out what is holding him back in the slams then, if he remains fit, he will pick up a good number of them. I don't see him dominating the game in the way that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have done as various times over the past 15 years but he has the potential to do so.

Question for the stats experts on here. Other than the 3 players mentioned previously and Murray are there any other players currently on tour who have won 3 or more Masters 1000's. If not it shows how good Zverev has been at such a young age.

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Post by No name Bertie on Mon 19 Nov 2018, 1:31 pm

With Ivan Lendl now on board with A Zverev, I am going to reset my opinion to "don't know" on Zverev winning a grand slam and being a major contender for grand slams.   I think Lendl has already had an effect on Zverev in the final of this end of year ATP tournament (see article below).  Lendl can help Zverev navigate his way through a tournament and navigate his way through a match against a great opponent and to know which tactics to employ.  

Previously I wasn't convinced he was biomechanically built to be an ideal grand slam winning machine - 6'6" is on the tall side of ideal - although this is the same height as Del Potro (but he broke down biomechanically).  Raonic is 6'5" and keeps breaking down.  Most male multi-slammers are in the 6'0" to 6'2" height range. To win a slam one has to navigate 7 x best of five setters over a two week period. In 2018: he was knocked out of the third round at AO, Wimbledon & USO, and the QF at the French Open. Standards are clearly dropping in the mens game as we are drawing to close of the "big four + Wawrinka" era - and so it is likely there is going to be a lot of opportunities for everyone.

http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/25313054/atp-world-tour-finals-ivan-lendl-effect-alexander-zverev-no-laughing-matter?platform=amp

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Post by Born Slippy on Mon 19 Nov 2018, 4:22 pm

Calder106 wrote:Zverev has now won 3 Masters 1000 events and the ATP finals having beaten Djokovic in two and Federer in one of the finals so has a great record for his age. If he can work out what is holding him back in the slams then, if he remains fit, he will pick up a good number of them. I don't see him dominating the game in the way that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have done as various times over the past 15 years but he has the potential to do so.

Question for the stats experts on here. Other than the 3 players mentioned previously and Murray are there any other players currently on tour who have won 3 or more Masters 1000's. If not it shows how good Zverev has been at such a young age.

I’m pretty sure that Tsonga (with two) is the only other current player who has won more than one.

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Post by MrInvisible on Fri 23 Nov 2018, 12:27 pm

Don't hibernate yet folks, Davis Cup final is on this weekend. Enjoy the last ever Davis Cup (unless they see sense and over-ride the new format) in the current format, whilst we have it. France have home advantage, but looking at the squads, I would put Croatia as narrow favourites, especially as its on clay. The Croatians have Cilic, Coric, Dodig and Pavic whilst the French have Chardy, Tsonga, Mahut and Herbert. As good as Tsonga has been in Davis Cup over the years, I would put both Cilic and Coric as favourites to beat him on this surface, whilst I'm not convinced at all about Chardy. I would have put in Monfils, if fit, as he responds v well in front of a partisan crowd, or Paire, whilst a bit of a wildcard inclusion, is capable of turning it on at times.

The French though have the benefit of a world-class double-pairing, so would be favourites in that at least, despite the doubles pedigree of Dodig. I will tip Croatia to win 3-2 though, despite Cilic's tendency of failing to kill off opponents. The combination of Cilic's firepower and Coric's mental toughness will see them through this tie.

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Post by sirfredperry on Fri 23 Nov 2018, 6:47 pm

Croatia one-nil up thru Coric who bt Chardy.

LATER: Cilic puts Croatia 2-0 up. France still in it as they could well win the doubles tomorrow.

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Post by MrInvisible on Sat 24 Nov 2018, 5:36 pm

As I thought, Cilic and Coric proved too strong for the unconvincing Chardy and also for Tsonga, who has only apparently played 6 times since April this year. The top French doubles pairing of Mahut and Herbert have kept them in the tie though, beating Dodig and Pavic in 4 sets today.

Despite this though I really can't see the French coming back and suspect that Croatia will wrap this up fairly easily in the 1st singles rubber tomorrow when Cilic is due to take on Chardy. In theory the French could put Pouille in, who may stand a better chance, but still don't see him beating Cilic on this surface. I remain mystified as to why the French chose clay for this final against a side as proficient on the surface as Croatia.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 24 Nov 2018, 6:43 pm

I assume the French chose clay before injuries took away some of their better clay court players.  In general the French are more familiar and better on clay due to the number of clay courts in that country and the effect of having Roland Garros.  

Would the French have fared better on the hard courts?  Both Coric and Cilic are also pretty handy on the hard courts.

ps I assume Pouille is not 100% fit and Tsonga is never 100% fit nowadays.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sun 25 Nov 2018, 9:31 pm

Congratulations to Croatia for beating France 3-1. Cilic beat Pouille in straight sets 7-6 6-3 6-3.

I am not sure whether plans for next years new Davis Cup competition has been entirely sorted, except it is going to be some sort of World Cup team event occurring in November:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/46329148

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Post by MrInvisible on Sun 25 Nov 2018, 11:25 pm

Good achievement for Croatia, now the country's 2nd Davis Cup title following Ancic and Ljubicic's triumph back in 2005. Good addition to Cilic's resume, and I think the win will set up Coric for an even better 2019 than he had in 2018 - I expect him to get inside top 10 shortly and looks capable of reaching a slam semi-final next year.

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Post by sirfredperry on Mon 26 Nov 2018, 10:49 am

The last of the "old-style" DCs, with the new formula arriving next year - a system that a number of the top players say they are not to keen on.
I've said this before. They should keep the old formula, but NOT PLAY IT EVERY YEAR. A good win for Croatia, away from home and on clay.

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