The 2019 ATP season has one more story to tell as the top eight players duke it out at the year-end Finals. World no.1 Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – the two best players of the season – will yet again be joined in London by the GOAT himself, Roger Federer. Of more interest though is the group of pretenders behind them.
Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas have each inflicted damage on the top three this year while Alexander Zverev enters as defending champion. The final place belongs to Matteo Berrettini, Italy’s first representative at the ATP Finals for 41 years – 41 bloody years!!
The ATP Finals draw was made earlier this week with the eight players divided up into two groups of four. Group Andre Agassi contains Nadal, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev. Meanwhile, Group Bjorn Borg puts Djokovic, Federer, Thiem and Berrettini together.
Group Andre Agassi
Rafael Nadal might have expected to dominate this group but an abdominal injury picked up in Paris has left him racing for fitness. It’s a shame for the Mallorcan as 2019 has been another outstanding season capped off by two more major triumphs (Roland Garros, US Open).
After the Spaniard and Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev has surely been the outstanding individual on the ATP Tour this year. The Russian, who started the season ranked 16th, propelled himself into the top five thanks to four title wins and a highly impressive run to the US Open final.
Like the Russian, Stefanos Tsitsipas is an ATP Finals debutant and put together a brilliant campaign. The exciting Greek grabbed a couple of titles (Estoril, Marseilles) and enjoyed a fantastic surge to the Aussie Open semis.
The group is rounded off by the defending champion, Alex Zverev. Unfortunately for the German, he hasn’t been able to build on last year’s London breakthrough where he beat Federer and Djokovic back-to-back. Confidence has been low for most of the season but Zverev did put some good results together on the way here.
Group Andre Agassi Winner: Daniil Medvedev @ 5/4
Due to Nadal’s injury problems and previous struggles at this event, I’m going with Daniil Medvedev to top the group. Medvedev’s recently won indoor events at St. Petersburg and Shanghai and he’s far from intimidated by big players or occasions.
Group Andre Agassi Outsider: Stefanos Tsitsipas @ 9/2
Because of Zverev’s patchy form, it makes sense to go with the Greek here. The flamboyant 21-year-old should have decent confidence after strong performances in Beijing, Shanghai and Basel.
Group Bjorn Borg
This will be an interesting battle between two multiple former champions. Six-time winner Roger Federer will once again hope to stop the almost invincible five-time champ, Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic comes to London bursting with confidence after recent glory in Paris, his fifth title of the year. The Serb tends to be outrageous in this event having at least made the final in his past six outings.
The great Swiss shouldn’t be discounted after success in Basel and rumours of a faster surface than usual in London. Federer’s longevity is a joke at this point as 2019 marks his 17th appearance at the year-end event.
Dominic Thiem hasn’t found his best form in this event, having failed to advance from the round-robin stage in three attempts. However, he’s had a fine run of results lately with two indoor titles (Beijing, Vienna) added to the collection.
Italy should be very proud of Matteo Berrettini. The Roman started the year outside the top 50 but ends it inside the top 10 (he’s only the fourth Italian man to breach the ATP top 10). The 23-year-old will arrive in good spirits after solid outings in Shanghai and Vienna.
Group Bjorn Borg Winner: Novak Djokovic @ 4/7
Boring, boring. It’s just going to be Djokovic, isn’t it? This is one of the Serb’s favourite events and he hasn’t exited before the final since 2011. For hopeful Federer fans, bear in mind that Djokovic has won eight of their last ten meetings.
Group Bjorn Borg Outsider: Dominic Thiem @ 7/1
If it’s not Djokovic then I think Dominic Thiem at 7’s is massive value in this group and the tournament overall (14/1). He should be confident after two recent titles and has a promising head-to-head against his competitors. Thiem leads Federer (4-2) and Berrettini (2-1) and has won three of his last four bouts with Djokovic. I can’t ignore him at that price.