ATP Finals Preview and Predictions
It is on. We have all our qualifiers for the ATP Finals. Most of the faces are familiar, and were expected to qualify, with the exception of Berrettini. I don’t think anyone thought the Italian was going to end up in the top 8 in the world at the beginning of the season. That being said, he deserved it, posting solid results, especially towards the end of the year, reaching the semis of both the US Open and Shanghai.
Rounding out the Next Gen players joining Berrettini (23) will be Medvedev (23), Tsitsipas (21), and Zverev (22). I’d throw Thiem in that group, but at 26 he’s now firmly in the middle of his career. Although, compared to Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, Thiem’s a baby! And of course, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer will be there.
Here’s what’s interesting about this year’s finals. There’s a vibe out there that some of these Next Gen players are finally knocking on the door. We saw this especially true in the second half of the year, where Medvedev tore up the hard-court season, beating Djokovic along the way and pushing Nadal to five sets at the US Open. Then at Shanghai, it was all Next Gen all week, with Medvedev, Zverev, Berrettini and Tsitsipas making the semis, and in predictable fashion Medvedev taking the title.
So, we have these young upstarts playing extremely well in spurts, the good news for the upstarts, is that there’s more of them now, so the odds are getting better that we see these guys going deep in big tournaments and winning them. It will get tougher for Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to fend them off into 2020. However, at the ATP finals, I think they may get their last chance. One of the reasons I think the old guard will fare well is because Nadal and Djokovic are battling it out for year-end number one. That’s a big deal to these guys. Federer will be trying to spoil their party, and given his age, he’d love to get his hands on such a big tournament to set himself up for success in 2020.
That being said, all of the Next Gen players, and also Thiem have the game to upset the Old Guard, especially Medvedev and Thiem. Those two guys won a few Masters 1000 titles against tough competition this year and reached Grand Slam finals. Coincidentally they both lost their Grand Slam finals against Nadal. Will they get their revenge? Or will Nadal and Djokovic dominate?
Look for these narratives to play big-time into these finals. I have to say, these are probably the most interesting ATP Finals in a very long time.