2016 ATP World Tour Finals: Let's rate the chances of the contendersSeptember 27, 2016
Prior to the 2016 season, Lucas Pouille's best performance was a third-round appearance at the 2014 Paris Masters. He played the qualifying rounds in some major tournaments while he didn't make it passed the first round in the others. It was a different story this year, where he won his first singles title in Metz, France. Pouille beat Dominic Thiem in the finals, which won't hurt the Austrian at all. 2016 was also a banner season for Thiem, with four ATP titles and a semifinals appearance at Roland Garros. In St. Petersburg, Alexander Zverev underlined his status as the next big star in men's tennis. The 19-year-old German upset Stan Wawrinka for his first ATP singles title.
Pouille and Zverev put themselves in the striking distance within Rafael Nadal, who currently occupies the eighth (and last spot) in the ATP World Tour Singles Race. Both players won't play in Chengdu and Shenzhen, both ATP 250 tournaments. The month of October would feature two Masters 1000 tournaments, two ATP 500 events, and one ATP 250 tourney. Pouille or Zverev might end up as an alternative if one has good results next month. On the other hand, it had been a long season. Both players broke the Top 20 (after their first singles title), which would give them a high seeding in the Australian Open next year. Nick Kyrgios must be worried.
Australia's top-ranked player won his singles title in Marseille early this year, which was followed by another title in Atlanta last summer. John McEnroe criticised him for his lack of willingness (to give it his all) after his third-round exit at the US Open. It was his second time to do it, which would be McEnroe's way of showing his tough love for the Canberran native. Pouille might not have Kyrgios's serve, but his on-court attitude would remind fans of Roger Federer. Likewise, Zverev may not be talented as Kyrgios, but the former knew what it would take to be the best player. And he seemed willing to take his game to the next level.
Kyrgios also has a mathematical chance of becoming an alternative in the ATP World Tour Finals, but his inconsistent results would mean that he would be getting ready for the Australian Open. Tomas Berdych and Marin ?ili? are currently in ninth and tenth place (in the Singles Race) respectively. Unless they have a good showing in the Shanghai Masters and the BNP Paribas Championships, then they'll likely be the alternates in London. More or less, the eight players who will play in O2 Arena are determined. Let's assessed their chances:
Novak Djokovic. He's bidding to win his sixth title, which will put him in a tie with Federer for the most ATP World Tour Finals titles. However, the Serb admitted that it was difficult to re-engage after completing a non-calendar Grand Slam in Paris. Perhaps Federer would make him competitive once more.
Andy Murray. It was a long summer for the Scotsman, but he may finish his season on a high note. Argentina beat Great Britain in the semifinals of the Davis Cup, but this might be a blessing in disguise for Murray.
Stan Wawrinka. Will the ATP World Tour Finals be the next major title for Wawrinka? Possibly. He thrives in the big events.
Milos Raonic. The Canadian is struggling to find the form that brought him to the finals of the Wimbledon Championships.
Kei Nishikori. He's the dark horse of the tournament. A little luck might help reach his first Finals in O2 Arena.
Gael Monfils. He's likely to make his first appearance in the O2 Arena, but fans won't expect him to reach the semifinals.
Dominik Thiem. An indoor hard court is not the Austrian's favorite surface, but it's been a banner year nevertheless.
Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard's forehand had let him down during the Olympics and the US Open. It might not be the case next month.
If Andy Murray will keep his focus, then there's no reason for him to delight the home fans.
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