Saturday, November 8, 2008

Master of his domain (Shanghai predictions)

The ATP's end-of-the-year championships is about to kick off any minute now (the U.S.-China time difference always trips me up). What a year it's been, too: I think the biggest thing is Rafael Nadal's ascendancy to the top of the heap. Rafa's not here, but Roger Federer—the man he replaced—is. I'm picking R-Fed to add to his Masters Cup haul this year—and would have even if Nadal were playing. It won't be easy, though. Here's my breakdown of how I think everyone will finish (going by seed) and a mini-recap of their 2008 season.

• Federer
Titles: Four, including the U.S. Open. (and an Olympic Gold in doubles, too.)
Year in review: "Is Roger done?" was the question most repeated over the season. It was an off one by his standards, but I think most players would take making three Slam finals and winning one any day of the week. He's not done yet!
Shanghai prediction: Champ (2-1 in round-robin play)

• Novak Djokovic
Titles: Three, including the Australian Open.
Year in review: A great first half of the year with a Slam and two Masters shields. However, the player who looked like he would seriously be challenging for the top spot, kind of fell off in the second half. The indoor season hasn't been that impressive.
Shanghai prediction: 1-2

• Andy Murray
Titles: Five, including two Masters shields.
Year in review: The U.S. Open finalist is responsible for making the "Big 3" on tour the "Fantastic 4." Everything pretty much fell into place for Murray this year and he's been on a tear indoors.
Shanghai prediction: Runner-up (3-0 in round-robin play)

• Nikolay Davydenko
Titles: Three, including a Masters shield.
Year in review: Winning Miami was huge for the perennial top-tenner, but I know Slam-wise, this was the worst he's done in years. He hasn't gotten deep in a draw in ages it seems: Did he even play this fall? And oh yeah, he's off the hook in the gambling scandal.
Shanghai prediction: 0-3

• Andy Roddick
Titles: Three
Year in review: A-Rod's year was OK (wins over the Big 3) and he got to the quarters at the U.S. Open. But I'll tell you this: If he didn't have bad injury spells, he really coulda been a contenda.
Shanghai prediction: 1-2

• Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Titles: Two, including one Masters shield
Year in review: Jo-Willie! The Aussie Open finalist also got hit hard by injury, but won Paris the last week of the regular season to get in. If not for that knee, oh what could've been...
Shanghai prediction: Semifinalist (3-0 in round-robin play)

• Juan Martin del Potro
Titles: Four (and those were in a row)
Year in review: The kid was alright. The youngest guy in the tournament was the hottest player on the planet this summer until Andy Murray stopped him in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. He's had a solid indoor season and should do well here.
Shanghai prediction: Semifinalist (2-1 in round-robin play)

• Gilles Simon
Titles: Three
Year in review: The beneficiary of Nadal's withdrawal came up with some nice results over the season, including a win over Federer this summer. To me, the most impressive thing he did all year was making the finals in Madrid, where he came through in third-set breakers in each match to get that far. That shows a lot of guts.
Shanghai prediction: 0-3

That's my take on the Masters Cup. Even with Rafa out, it still should be a good one!

(Photo: Getty Images)


Shelia said...

I agree Van. I think that it's going to be a hell of a tournament, I'm looking forward to it.

I want to see if Tsonga or Del Potro surprises us. Both have come to be one powerful player.

Topspintennisblog said...

hey Van

Thanks for the great preview. I agree with the Federer - Murray final prediction. Let's hope Roger finishes the yea on a high


freakyfrites said...

Great preview, Van!

I predict that Gilles is going to win at least one match! And also there's going to be another pull out - maybe Roger, maybe someone else. And I don't think Fed's taking home the title, even if he makes it to the final. Just foggy crystal ball style hunches.

heyheyhey said...

We're down to hours in terms of countdown! I can't wait for this week to start, but then again, once it's's over for the year. No tennis til the Aussie starts up.

Some bold predictions, Van. Good for you! I don't have any predictions, but I hope to see Simon, Del Potro and Tsonga do well. I hope one of them wins it, but it would also be nice to see Murray or Federer win it. So I've got five chances to be happy!

van said...

• Hey Sheila! I was kind of shocked Tsonga lost today, but you're right: I definitely agree both he and del Potro have really bright futures. I'd love for them to make big moves this week.

• What's up, Steve? Thanks! I think it would be only fitting for those two to come through to the finals here. I think when it comes to playing on a fast surface, those two are the best.

• Thanks Freakyfrites! I thought I was doing good by you, predicting your guy to win and all! : ) I hope he doesn't pull out. About Gilles, though: Who would he be able to beat in that group? I guess Roddick, but I hope not. That's the match I'm counting on A-Rod to win!

• Hey Heyheyhey! I'm glad you have so many guys to back this week. It wouldn't surprise me if Tsonga came through, even though I'm predicting a Murray-Federer final. I was shocked Jo-Willie lost today, though.

TopSpin said...

I'm actually hoping Djokovic gets it together here - he wasn't my favourite player early on this year but has come a long way since then. I never thought I'd say this but I'm actually missing his intensity!