Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals: That's a wrap, Djokovic beats Nadal, 6-3 6-4

Novak Djokovic
The 2013 ATP season reached a crescendo tonight as Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal, 6-3 6-4 as he bookended his year once again with the Australian Open and World Tour Finals title.  It wasn't a great match, but there were some sensational points sprinkled in there, the most amazing one taking place in the first set when Djokovic broke Nadal to serve for the first set.  Apart from one blip losing a 3-0 lead to 3-3, Djokovic was far superior throughout the match and was returning like a demon.  Nadal struggled to impose himself on the match as Djokovic's consistent depth and placement helped him over the finishing line in straight sets.
So that's pretty much it for the 2013 season bar the Davis Cup final! Many, many thanks to everyone who has read Moo's Tennis Blog  and commented over the past year.  I have seen my viewing figures rise throughout the year, which has really blown my mind so thanks once again for reading.  As I posted last night, this will be the last blog from and I can now officially reveal that I am moving to a new site at

I just want to stress that apart from the new look of Moo's Tennis Blog, there will be no changes to the actual content  and I really do hope that you will continue to follow me over at my new site :-) And please don't disappear for the off-season because I have lots planned  including my countdown of my favourite matches of 2013, my favourite moments, a look back at the successes (and failures!) from my predictions and of course, predictions about what I think is going to happen in the tennis world through 2014.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Final Preview: Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic
THIS IS THE FINAL PREVIEW OF 2013! I was really looking forward to both semi-finals today, but in truth, both were damp squibs.  Rafael Nadal was first to book his spot in the final as he overcame one wobble serving for the first set before strolling through the second to defeat an error-strewn, Roger Federer, 7-5 6-3.  This was a great tournament from Fed, but there didn't seem to be a great deal left in the tank today.  Novak Djokovic was second to book his place in the final with an excellent 6-3 6-3 win over Stanislas Wawrinka.  A great tournament from Stan and I really hope he can back up this stellar year in 2014.  Djokovic was good today and that incredible get in the second set was awesome.

Nadal leads the head-to-head by 22 wins to 16, but it was Djokovic who won their last match in Beijing, 6-3 6-4, which snapped Rafa's incredible hard court winning streak of 2013.  I have missed all their matches this year so I am particularly looking forward to watching tomorrow's final.  Both men go into the final unbeaten throughout the tournament so something will have to give.  I don't think Nadal has been playing that well this week, but he has always been solid enough to get the job done.  In the final, I fully expect Novak to defend his World Tour Finals title.

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Nadal in 2 tight sets

Breaking News: Moo's Tennis Blog is on the move!

The ATP season wraps up tomorrow with the World Tour Finals final at the O2 and after tonight's match between Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, I will be posting my final preview.  Not only will this be the final preview of 2013, it will also be the final post from because... 

Moo's Tennis Blog will be moving to a new site!

Full details soon :-)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Semi-Final Preview & Predictions: Federer-Nadal and Djokovic-Wawrinka

So close to a perfect set of predictions through the group stage, but Federer against Del Potro destroys my 100% record! Semi-finals tomorrow and I must say, I have really enjoyed these World Tour Finals so far...

1. Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer
The quality was not always there in Saturday's decisive group match between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, but it was another enthralling duel between the pair, who have gone the distance in their last 7 matches.  I thought Del Potro was too passive and Federer, despite displaying his customary 2013 dips in form, played an aggressive match and was able to steady the ship from 0-3 down in the decider.  Federer deservedly won the match, 4-6 7-6(2) 7-5 in 2 hours and 26 minutes.  The atmosphere at the O2 sounded amazing today and it's bound to be even crazier tomorrow as Federer now takes on Rafael Nadal next in the semi-finals.

The Spaniard has been a constant thorn for Federer winning their last 3 matches and holding a 21-10 head-to-head lead.  Nadal has not been at his best this week despite winning all 3 of his group matches.  Indoors will also give Federer an advantage.  They have played at this event twice; Federer beat Nadal in the 2010 final, 6-3 3-6 6-1 and then destroyed him in 2011, 6-3 6-0 in what was a quite masterful performance.  Federer will have less than a day to prepare, but he looked good today fitness wise and much better than DelPo.  I really hope the match lives up to what will be a spectacular occasion.  My call... Fed to get a set, but Nadal to reign supreme.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Federer in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Stanislas Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic
It really is quite some line-up for Sunday's ticket holders as Novak Djokovic will take Stanislas Wawrinka in the night match.  Djokovic and Wawrinka have played three times this year, the first two both going the distance and earning "epic" status.  Djokovic has looked solid this week and required 3 sets to get past both Federer and Del Potro.  Wawrinka was error-strewn to say the least with 56 unforced errors against David Ferrer in his last round robin match, but showed character to come back from losing the first set on a tiebreak.  There were bound to be nerves in that one and he dealt with them well, coming home with the bacon in a 6-7 6-4 6-1 victory.

Djokovic and Wawrinka played last week in Paris where after a cracking start, the world number 2 sped away from Stan to post a 6-1 6-4 victory.  Key will be Wawrinka's serve, which has been firing really impressively this week and he will have to serve well to have a chance in this one.  Djokovic has won their last 13 matches, but will know from their Australian Open encounter and at the US Open too, that Stanley cannot be underestimated.  I hope for another classic, but I have a feeling it will be pretty straightforward for Nole...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Wawrinka in 2 sets (1 easy, 1 tight)

Friday, 8 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 6 Preview: It's all about Federer v Del Potro

1. Juan Martin del Potro v Roger Federer
Juan Martin del Potro
Saturday's afternoon schedule features a third clash in as many weeks between Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer.  The qualification scenarios are pretty simple; whoever wins, will qualify for the semi-finals therefore making this the most anticipated match of the tournament so far.  Federer beat Richard Gasquet, 6-4 6-3 in his second match of the tournament.  Gasquet had break points in Federer's last 3 service games, but he failed mentally to stretch Federer.  Gasquet was also far too passive and did not deliver the performance he did against Del Potro allowing Federer to dictate the play.  In yesterday's night match, Del Potro took Novak Djokovic to a third set for the fourth consecutive time, but was on the losing side once again as Djokovic prevailed, 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Federer has a resounding 15-4 lead in the head-to-head, but Del Potro is slowly catching up with 3 wins in their 4 encounters.  Del Potro won a fantastic three set Basel finale after Federer displayed some stunning tennis in the second set.  The Fed did win their most recent encounter in Paris, another entertaining affair, 6-3 4-6 6-3.  Their last 6 matches have gone the distance, which promises us a dynamite clash with so much up for grabs.  My hunch is that it's going to be a great match and I am going for the big man, DelPo to book his spot in the semi-finals.

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Federer in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP WTFs Round Robin Prediction
Novak Djokovic to beat Richard Gasquet in 2 tight sets

Thursday, 7 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 5 Preview: Ferrer-Wawrinka and Berdych-Nadal

Rafael Nadal is through to the semi-finals, but the second place from group A is still up for grabs with Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych still in contention.

1. David Ferrer v Stanislas Wawrinka
David Ferrer
Stanislas Wawrinka came close, but still came out of an excellent round robin match against Rafael Nadal without an elusive set.  Nadal is 12-0 in matches and 24-0 in sets against Wawrinka as he edged past Stan in 2 tiebreak sets, 7-6(5) 7-6(6).  Wawrinka came from a break down in both sets and was there in both tiebreaks, but was unable to stay with Nadal.  In the first set tiebreak, he appeared to stumble on a simple putaway down set point.  The Swiss man though has played well this tournament and will fancy his chances against a tiring David Ferrer, who never gave up, but fell in straight sets to Tomas Berdych, 6-4 6-4.  

Ferrer leads the head-to-head by 7 wins to 4, but Stan won their last match in style in the Oeiras final on clay, 6-1 6-4.  Stan HAS to beat Ferrer to qualify for the semi-finals, but I think he has shown us enough high quality tennis over his first two matches to suggest he will beat a frazzled Ferrer and confirm his spot in the semi-finals.

Prediction - Wawrinka to beat Ferrer in 2 tight sets

2. Tomas Berdych v Rafael Nadal
Tomas Berdych
If Tomas Berdych can cause an almighty shock and usurp the already qualified, Rafael Nadal, then the towering Czech can muscle his way into the semi-finals.  It is a big if though because Berdych is currently on a brilliantly barren run against Nadal losing their last FIFTEEN matches and winning just two sets in the process.  Berdych was disapppointing in his first match against Wawrinka, but he raised his game against Ferrer with a exceptional serving performance, winning 29 of 30 first serve points to defeat Ferrer, 6-4 6-4.  Nadal has looked solid this week, but definitely not unbeatable and with his place in the semi-finals already confirmed, Berdych will at least feel there is a chance to exploit that.  However I would still fancy Nadal to prevail with this match-up being a terribly tall mental order for Berdych to achieve, which would mean the Berd has to rely on Ferrer to beat Wawrinka.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Berdych in 3 sets

Qualification scenarios from Group A (from the ATP Tour Website)
1) Regardless of score, if R. NADAL defeats T. BERDYCH and D. FERRER defeats S. WAWRINKA, then R. NADAL wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd.

2) Regardless of score, if R. NADAL defeats T. BERDYCH and S. WAWRINKA defeats D. FERRER, then R. NADAL wins the group and S. WAWRINKA qualifies 2nd.

3) Regardless of score, if T. BERDYCH defeats R. NADAL and D. FERRER defeats S. WAWRINKA, then T. BERDYCH wins the group and R. NADAL qualifies 2nd.

4) If T. BERDYCH defeats R. NADAL in 2 sets and S. WAWRINKA defeats D. FERRER in 2 sets, then T. BERDYCH wins the group and R. NADAL qualifies 2nd.

5) If T. BERDYCH defeats R. NADAL in 2 sets and S. WAWRINKA defeats D. FERRER in 3 sets, then T. BERDYCH wins the group and R. NADAL qualifies 2nd.

6) If T. BERDYCH defeats R. NADAL in 3 sets and S. WAWRINKA defeats D. FERRER in 2 sets, then R. NADAL wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd.

7) If T. BERDYCH defeats R. NADAL in 3 sets and S. WAWRINKA defeats D. FERRER in 3 sets, then R. NADAL wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 4 Preview: Federer-Gasquet and Djokovic-del Potro

David Ferrer against Tomas Berdych still coming up tonight, but I thought would post my preview for Thursday since it's ready...

1. Roger Federer v Richard Gasquet (Group B)
Richard Gasquet
I haven't had the fortune of watching Roger Federer's match with Novak Djokovic, but the general consensus I have read is that there were moments of genius from Federer, but he was too inconsistent to draw out the win against a more solid, Djokovic.  The Serb lost the second set, but came through the decider strongly to post a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 victory against the Fed.  Federer now plays Richard Gasquet, who gave a fine account of himself in a tight three set loss to Juan Martin del Potro, which has been the best match of the tournament so far.  Federer leads the head-to-head by 10 wins to 2 with both Gasquet wins coming on clay.  The last 2 times they have played have seen comfortable straight set wins for the Fed.  I think this will be a tight match though and if Gasquet can be aggressive and display the variety he showed against DelPo, I think this will be an extremely challenging match for Federer.

Prediction - Federer to beat Gasquet in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro (Group B)
Juan Martin del Potro
The match that was top of my list from the group stage was this one between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro so it's understandable I am a bit gutted that being the evening match, I won't be able to watch it :-( Djokovic came through against Federer, but was far from his best, meanwhile Del Potro was also struggling against Gasquet, but improved as their match went on.  Del Potro was consistently improving match-on-match at the O2 last year and I expect to see a similar progression from him this year.  He has had two valuable days off, which I think will work in his favour later in the week.  

Djokovic leads the head-to-head by 10 wins to 3 with victories in their last 2 matches.  The last three matches they have played in Shanghai, Wimbledon and Indian Wells have all been fantastic encounters and propelled this match to be one of the most exciting rivalries on tour, in my opinion the best right now.  I think Djokovic will win this match, but I do believe they could play again where I anticipate things to be tighter.  Still, this should be a great spectacle for the O2 crowd.  If you've got tickets... Enjoy!

Prediction - Djokovic to beat del Potro in 3 sets

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 3 Preview & Predictions: Nadal-Wawrinka and Berdych-Ferrer

1. Rafael Nadal v Stanislas Wawrinka (Group A)
Stanislas Wawrinka
The two winners from the first matches in Group A, Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka will square off in Wednesday afternoon's match at the O2.  Wawrinka won his first ever match at the ATP World Tour Finals with a competent 6-3 6-7(0) 6-3 victory over Tomas Berdych.  For full details of my take on that match you can read my report HERE.  Nadal too was solid, but got a lot of help from an error strewn performance by David Ferrer as he charged forward in his hopes of securing the world number 1 spot for the year with a 6-3 6-2 victory.  

Unfortunately the head-to-head  between Stan and Rafa is severely in favour of Nadal, who has won all 11 of their matches and has never dropped a set.  Their last match in Shanghai saw a lengthy first set tiebreak where Stan had his chances, but was unable to claim a first ever set over Rafa.  Based on the head-to-head, it is hard to give Stan much hope of changing things around in this one.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Wawrinka in 2 tight sets

2. David Ferrer v Tomas Berdych (Group A)
I was very disappointed with both David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych in their first round matches and it certainly appears that long seasons are catching up with both.  This is a must-win match for both players and will see another rematch from Paris as the pair played in the quarter-finals where Ferrer recovered from losing the first set to prevail, 4-6 7-5 6-3.  Ferrer committed a staggering amount of unforced errors in his match with Nadal, in fact he hit over twice as many unforced errors (33) compared to winners (16).  Berdych disappointed me against Wawrinka because I thought for him, he was quite passive and unwilling to take chances.  Based on this afternoon's match, I think Ferrer is pooped and it's tough to see him in just over a day, turning that around and producing a winning performance here.

Prediction - Berdych to beat Ferrer in 3 sets

Moo's Experiences of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2

Monday wrapped up my year of live tennis as I had tickets for the O2 afternoon session for the first matches of the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals.  Over the past three years, I have made a conscious decision to avoid going.  The main reason has been the extortionate prices; I went to the final in 2009 where I got a good seat in the lower bowl for about £40.  After the success of the first year, the prices were dramatically ramped up so that a ticket for the final was double what I paid in 2009.  Generally, a good ticket in the lower bowl for ANY match is now in excess of £60.  Considering you get one best-of-three singles and doubles match, it's extremely expensive although that doesn't seem to have put off the majority with the organisers having few problems in filling out the arena.  However this year I decided to throw my morals out of the window and take advantage of the live tennis sitting on my doorstop.

On arrival at the O2... where's Roger?
Although ticket prices are ridiculously high, I managed to get a seat in the upper bowl (the gods) for just under £40 each (with my LTA discount), which I thought was just about reasonable.  Choosing what day to go though is a real tricky one.  It really is luck of the draw what match you get so I was eagerly hunting out the schedule on Saturday to see what match I would get.  Personally, top of my list was to see a close, competitive match.  I would much rather have it like today where I saw Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka, admittedly two of the less star-studded names, but both quite evenly matched rather than see one of the top 3 hand out a beatdown.  Berdych-Wawrinka sat somewhere in the middle on my wishlist although I cannot deny a DelPo match was what I was gunning for.

There is no denying that the O2 is a really great venue for the tennis.  The reason that it hasn't sat as highly for me compared to the likes of Wimbledon and Eastbourne is you miss out on the experiences of walking around the grounds and seeing matches on the outside courts, which to me makes the grass court tournaments so great because you see stuff you don't see on the TV.  I do though, like what they have done with the Fan Zone this year with two practice courts with 400 unreserved seats, which was easily accessible. 

Ross Hutchins being interviewed in the Fan Zone

Before the doubles match, I got to see a bit of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek warming up, but unfortunately none of the singles players were out and about, apart from Berdych, who was warming up on the practice court near the Sponsor Village. I just don't have the patience to try and get a glimpse from tiptoes when I know I can get to the front of the queue quite easily at Eastbourne or even Wimbledon.  One thing I did realise is what a massive draw Roger Federer is as one of the stewards, who had a copy of the practice schedule, was constantly inundated with the question "when is Roger practising?".  It did make me wonder that when Federer retires, there is going to be a huge, massive, giant gaping hole on the ATP tour and I do honestly believe that tennis audiences will suffer when that day does come.

Leander Paes on one of the practice courts in the big bubble

Radek Stepanek... I was looking out for Petra, but does looks like on Twitter she is on her way soon!

Getting down to the actual tennis, I enjoyed our doubles match between Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer.  I don't watch a great deal of doubles, but I felt a duty as I had a ticket for it to be there and support it.  The most amusing part of it was the constant support and "come ons" from a loud woman in the lower bowl, who I have seen twice before at Wimbledon and Eastbourne in a bright fluorescent Chelsea shirt.  From the voice, I knew it was definitely the same woman!  I still remember from the Olympics last year, the constant "come on Janko, focus on the next point" and it still cracks me up every time.

The doubles match from our view in the gods, 4 rows from the front

I was pretty happy with the view as I knew we would be pretty high up!
It was a good doubles match although of all the eight doubles pairs, it was probably the least attractive match on paper.  As mentioned above, I don't watch much doubles so it was interesting to see the use of the deciding point and how incredibly crucial it is.  In this match, at 6-3 6-5 40-40, Fyrstenberg and Matkowski had a match point, whilst at the same time, Rojer and Qureshi had a break point to force a tiebreak.  It was no surprise that Fyrstenberg double faulted under the pure pressure of the moment.  They did however recover well in the second set tiebreak from an early break deficit with some much better serving to take the match, 6-3 7-6(8).

Qureshi / Rojer and Fyrstenberg / Matkowski

If you're going, I would definitely recommend making time for the doubles

When I go to the tennis, I am normally one of those annoying people who is constantly taking pictures; however with the strict guidelines on cameras at the O2, I decided not to bother and just use my phone to take the odd few.  It was actually refreshing just to watch the tennis although it certainly felt like a bit of an alien concept to me!

Our singles match was Tomas Berdych against Stanislas Wawrinka, which I expected to be close and it was for the most part.  I thought Wawrinka may be slow out of the blocks having never competed at the World Tour Finals, but it was quite the contrary as he came out with a love service hold including the shot of the match on the second point.  He played a fine first set, particularly his serve, which was flowing beautifully as he lost just 1 point on it in the first 3 games, which came from a double fault.  He certainly got tight closing it out, but got the job done in the end, 6-3.

Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka
I was very disappointed with Berdych throughout the whole match.  He really looked flat out there and did not seem to be hitting the ball as hard as he usually does.  I saw a tweet during the match that Wawrinka's average groundstroke speed was 7 or 8mph higher and that certainly seemed the case to me.  Stan was bossing the majority of rallies and Berdych was on the defence, which is obviously not his strength.  The only credit I can give him is that he was gritty and at least got stuck into the second set as Wawrinka's unforced error count started to mount.  Berd played a solid tiebreak, dishing out a TB bagel and I thought he may push on from there, but no...

It's bloody hot in the gods! And also steep too!

I do like the colour of the court

Wawrinka did a stellar job in finding his form from the first set and he was well worth the win, 6-3 6-7(0) 6-3.  When his backhand clicks, it really is a thing of beauty and he closed the match out without too many issues.  The O2 has it's own quirks with announcing the aces, break points, set points etc with graphics on the scoreboard and sounds to boot, which were making some people jump.  It's rare you see tournaments do this and although I didn't have a problem with it, they were really inconsistent with it.  The umpire,  Mohammed Lahyani, who is a legend by the way, was often waiting for the graphic to appear before calling the score and was barely getting in the score before the next point when it didn't appear.  In general, he waits an age to call the score after a point. I did like that Lahyani got some entrance music onto the court, because let's face it, Lahyani is the star of the show!

Stan's a winner :-)
All in all, it was a good day and in terms of the matches we got, I think we were somewhere in the middle in terms of the quality of tennis on show.  In terms of value for money, I think we did pretty well with a combined 3 hours and 56 minutes worth of tennis.  I certainly have my gripes with the O2, mainly over the price, but nothing beats watching live tennis and turning down the opportunity is just boring even if it does cost me an arm and a leg.  I will enjoy the tennis just as much on the TV over the remainder of this week, but I am pretty sure I will be back next year...

Monday, 4 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 2 Preview: Ferrer-Nadal and Djokovic-Federer

I had a very enjoyable afternoon at the O2 and got to see Stanislas Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych, 6-3 6-7(0) 6-3 in his first ever World Tour Finals match.  I'll put together a little post with a few blurry pictures of my experiences today. All in all, that was a great first day and I really enjoyed Juan Martin del Potro's win over Richard Gasquet.  In a match that had everything, it was a solid marker for the match of the tournament.  It is sure to be beaten over the coming days, but this year's World Tour Finals have got off to a fine start.  Can day 2 do any better?

1. David Ferrer v Rafael Nadal (Group A)
David Ferrer
When I originally casted my eyes over this match-up, it wasn't one that stood out, but after their semi-final in Paris, there is certainly a new edge of intrigue around it now.  David Ferrer beat Rafael Nadal, 6-3 7-5 in the Paris semi-finals, which halted a streak of 9 straight wins for Rafa over Daveed.  Sure, Nadal was flat as a pancake, but I was very impressed by Ferrer's performance and his willingness to attack.  He played another fine match against Novak Djokovic in the final, but lost out mentally as he wasted chances to serve both sets out before falling to a 7-5 7-5 defeat.  Nadal's hard court invincibility has worn off with losses to Ferrer, Del Potro and Djokovic in the last month, but he remains a heavy favourite to qualify from this group.  This should be an interesting match, but I fully anticipate that after a slow start, Nadal will turn the tables on Ferrer.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Ferrer in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer (Group B)
Roger Federer
Tuesday's night match is a cracker and I am gutted I will miss it as I am back working nights this week.  Novak Djokovic will take on Roger Federer in a rematch of their Paris semi-final.  This match is certainly like a London bus; we have waited all year for a Djok-Fed match and then two come along in three days.  Djokovic won the title in Paris, but there is a possibility he could be tired after a punishing match with Ferrer on Sunday afternoon.  Federer played one less match in Paris, but also had five matches the week before in Basel so I am not sure that will play a big part.  I expect the British crowd to be extremely pro-Federer, but Djokovic has proven in the past that he can deal with that and I expect the Serb to defeat Federer once more in an entertaining rematch of last year's O2 finale.

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Federer in 2 very tight sets

Sunday, 3 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals, Day 1 Preview: Berdych-Wawrinka and Del Potro-Gasquet

The World Tour Finals get underway tomorrow with the four Paris semi-finalists all given the day off and the two groups being split for the first time ever at the O2 with a group A and a group B match on day 1.  I am intrigued to see whether they continue like this for the rest of the round robin stage or if they try to get back into sync with the same group being played across the same day.

1. Tomas Berdych v Stanislas Wawrinka (Group A)
Tomas Berdych
I was expecting a more star-studded match to open up this year's World Tour Finals, but one thing that can be expected from a match between Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka is a competitive and tightly fought affair.  Both players made the quarter-finals in Paris; Wawrinka lost 6-1 6-4 to Novak Djokovic, meanwhile Berdych was beat out by David Ferrer in 3 sets.  

This will be Berdych's third appearance at the O2 so he knows what to expect, but for Wawrinka, this will be a new experience and one that is likely to bring some nerves too.  Wawrinka holds the edge in the head-to-head with a 7-5 lead, which includes 5 wins out of their last 6 matches.  In their last match at the US Open, Stanley prevailed in a tight 4 set match and will have the confidence of that victory going into this match.  I think this one will depend on how quickly Wawrinka settles; if he keeps his cool, I think he will open with a vital victory.

Prediction - Wawrinka to beat Berdych in 3 sets

2. Juan Martin del Potro v Richard Gasquet (Group B)
Richard Gasquet
Rotten luck surrounded Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday as he had his belongings robbed at Gare du Nord train station when he stopped to sign an autograph as he made his way to London.  That doesn't seem to have dampened the big man's mood too much as he remarked that "this tournament is too good to let me bring this down".  All in all, it has been a terrific year for Del Potro, who has managed to notch up wins in 2013 over Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Andy Murray and Roger Federer.  The key for him now is to string those wins together more consistently if he is to break into that top 4.  

Gasquet too, has had a marvellous season, which was spearheaded by a semi-final showing at the US Open.  He has drawn a stinker of a group and to make the semi-finals would be a quite spectacular achievement.  Del Potro holds a dominant 5-1 head-to-head lead over Gasquet with 4 of those 5 wins coming in straight sets.  DelPo should start with a bang here and this is a must win match if he is to qualify for the semi-finals...

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Gasquet in 2 sets

Saturday, 2 November 2013

ATP World Tour Finals at the O2, London: Preview and Predictions

It's time once again for the top eight to finish the season with a bang at the O2 and I don't know why, but this year I am feeling more excited than ever.  Tomorrow I will start the daily previews of each day but tonight I just wanted to present my early feelings about the week ahead.

Group A: R.Nadal, D.Ferrer, T.Berdych and S.Wawrinka
Rafael Nadal
Of course, group A is the lighter of the two with Rafael Nadal seemingly having avoided any real danger.  Nadal has a combined 48-8 W-L record against his three round robin opponents, but today's 6-3 7-5 loss to David Ferrer in Paris has certainly added a new edge to their match next week, which will be first up on Tuesday.  Even if Nadal was to falter against Ferrer (which I don't see happening) he is a shoe in to beat Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka, who just do not have the belief to beat Rafa, even indoors.  

I think Rafa will qualify top, but second place in group A is well and truly up for grabs because I could see the remaining matches aside from Rafa all being close.  Wawrinka has no experience of the WTF's, but he has beaten both Ferrer and Berdych this year.  If he can get off to a good start with a win over Berdych I think he'll qualify, but there is always the chance he could be overrawed by the occasion.  Ferrer is the safer bet, but I am concerned that he has played the last 6 consecutive weeks, going deep in the last 3 tournaments.  The guy is a machine, but even Daveed has some limits.

Moo's Predictions: 1. Nadal and 2. Wawrinka

Group B: N.Djokovic, J.M.del Potro, R.Federer and R.Gasquet
Novak Djokovic
Poor old Reeshard... Group B is a beast and in truth, I would have liked  to see Juan Martin Del Potro in group A to even them up a bit.  It does promise us three fantastic clashes with Djokovic v Del Potro top of my list of mouthwatering matches! I think Novak Djokovic will qualify top of the group, dropping one set to Del Potro and edging out Roger Federer too.  The crucial match will be the DelPo v Fed one and with their recent match-ups, it promises to be juicy.

On paper, Richard Gasquet doesn't stand much chance with a 1-5 head-to-head record with Del Potro and an even more miserable 1-9 against Djokovic.  He has 2 wins to his name against Federer, but both came on clay.  After watching his match against Nadal in Paris where he camped out at the back of the baseline for it's entirety, I hold little hope for Gasquet.  Fed against DelPo will be the clincher and I expect a fantastic match, probably on Saturday if things go to the form book.

Moo's Predictions: 1. Djokovic and 2. del Potro

Moo's Final Prediction: Djokovic d. del Potro

It's no lie, I love the big Argentinian dude and I think he will make the final this year, just coming up short in a classic finale with Djokovic.  I would have gone DelPo all the way, but I am slightly concerned about his fitness having played an exhausting amount of tennis in recent weeks.  Nadal is certainly not at his strongest indoors and 3 hard court losses to Djokovic (Beijing), Del Potro (Shanghai) and Ferrer (Paris) have certainly taken something away from that aura that was shining brighter than the sun after destroying the field in Cincy and New York. 

All in all, this promises to be a captivating week of tennis.  I am at the O2 Monday afternoon for Berdych v Wawrinka and I hope to blog about my experiences later in the week.  Unfortunately the O2 has a crappy restriction on cameras so there won't be many pictures, but I'll take some with my phone at least.  I'll be in the gods, but I am looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere :-)

Friday, 1 November 2013

ATP Paris, Semi-Final Predictions: Federer-Djokovic

This week's predictions have been pretty woeful so I am looking forward to a clean slate at the O2.  I believe the draw will be announced tomorrow... excited :-)

1. Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer
Would you believe this will be the first time in 2013 that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will play each other.  Today saw Federer claim his best win of the year as he took out Juan Martin del Potro, 6-3 4-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 43 minutes.  Federer and Del Potro's head-to-head is certainly an engaging one with their last 6 encounters going the distance and there is a good chance we could see it three weeks out of three with the O2 next week.  I was actually relieved that DelPo lost so he can at least have a few days off before the O2.  Federer played a fine match and produced some startling statistics in the first set hitting 17 winners to just 4 unforced errors.  

Djokovic produced a great performance in the quarter-finals to beat Stanley Wawrinka, 6-1 6-4 and he will be the heavy favourite going into tomorrow's heavyweight clash with Fed.  The last time they played was in the World Tour Finals final in 2012, which was a terrific match that Djokovic won 7-6(6) 7-5.  I haven't been calling things well this week, but I expect Djokovic to comfortably make the final.

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Federer in 2 sets (1 easy, 1 tight)

Best of the rest: ATP Paris semi-final prediction
Rafael Nadal to beat David Ferrer in 2 sets

Thursday, 31 October 2013

ATP Paris, Quarter-Final Preview: Djokovic-Wawrinka and Federer-Del Potro

I thought the Paris draw was going to turn into a mess, but rather surprisingly, the big guns have all turned up and reached the quarter-finals.  Milos Raonic's loss to Tomas Berdych has confirmed next week's line-up at the O2 with Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka joining Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer.  In fact, if Nadal beats Janowicz then the final eight in Paris are the eight in question next week so it's certain we'll see some matches over the next few days that will be replicated next week.

1. Stanislas Wawrinka v Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
The prospect of a match between Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic is always a fascinating one based on their two encounters in 2013. Their first match in Melbourne remains one of the best matches of the year and although I felt their match-up at the US Open was heavily overrated, it was still the best of a bad bunch at this year's lacklustre final slam.  Wawrinka confirmed his spot at the O2 with a confident 6-3 6-2 rout of Nicolas Almagro, meanwhile Djokovic was made to work much harder as he lost the opening set of his third round encounter to John Isner, but rolled through the second and third sets to post a 6-7 6-1 6-2 victory.  Djokovic has won both their matches this year, but this one will be the first best of three set match.  Wawrinka has been up and down over the past few months, but remains a potent threat on his day.  I think Stanley will get another set, but Djokovic will come through once more...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Wawrinka in 3 sets

2. Roger Federer v Juan Martin del Potro
Roger Federer
I am surprised another match-up between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro sits on our doorstops.  I did think there would be some tactical tanking going on and particularly from these two who played five matches in Basel last week.  Their final in Basel was a great contest and through patches, particularly that second set, Federer was stunning.  Del Potro was tested today as he dropped the opening set of his third round match to Grigor Dimitrov and was marginally troubled by a hip injury.  Federer has had no problems so far with straight set wins against Kevin Anderson and Philipp Kohlschreiber.  I am on the edge with this one because I think Federer will be the fresher of the two, but I would still anticipate DelPo being too strong for Federer, who has struggled in the crucial moments of these types of matches recently.

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Federer in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Paris Quarter-Final Predictions
Rafael Nadal to beat Richard Gasquet in 2 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat David Ferrer in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

ATP Paris, 3rd Round Predictions: Nadal-Janowicz and Djokovic-Isner

1. Novak Djokovic v John Isner
Novak Djokovic
Surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was given quite a workout in his first match of the week against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.  The young Frenchman, who had won his first match on the ATP tour against Benoit Paire in round one, hung well with the world number two and even held 2 set points, which were superbly staved off by Djokovic with textbook serving from a champion.  Herbert gave a fine account himself, but eventually lost 7-6(3) 6-3.  Djokovic will now play John Isner, who needed 3 sets to get past Michal Przysiezny.  The huge American has a good record over Djokovic with two previous wins at Indian Wells (2012) and Cincy earlier this year.  There is no doubt Isner can unsettle the Serb, but Djokovic has been in fine form recently and Isner has not looked as solid as he was on home soil.  Advantage Djokovic...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Isner in 2 tight sets

2. Rafael Nadal v Jerzy Janowicz
Jerzy Janowicz announced himself on tour this time last year where he beat Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarevic and Gilles Simon to make the final of Paris.  Defending those final points was always going to be a challenge, but meeting Rafael Nadal in the third round will be a stern test indeed.  The Pole defeated Santiago Giraldo in straight sets and has made a pretty sound comeback from injury with two losses since the US Open to Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer in 3 sets.  Nadal was made to word hard for his second round win as he came past fellow Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, 7-5 7-5 in 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Nadal and Janowicz have met once on the ATP tour in an entertaining match in Canada this year where Janowicz certainly had his chances to get at least a set, but eventually came up second best, 7-6(6) 6-4.  Nadal has never excelled indoors and Janowicz obviously likes these courts so I fancy he could scoop a set in this one.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Janowicz in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Paris 3rd Round Predictions
Richard Gasquet to beat Kei Nishikori in 2 tight sets
David Ferrer to beat Gilles Simon in 2 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Tomas Berdych in 2 tight sets
Roger Federer to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2 tight sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Juan Martin del Potro in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Stanislas Wawrinka in 2 sets

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

ATP Paris: Tsonga out of O2 race, Federer one win away..

By virtue of his three set loss to Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was eliminated from the race to the World Tour Finals at the O2.  I'm sad for the Frenchman, but I think it is for the best because he was obviously struggling with his knee, which has ravaged the second half of his season.  The fact he was still in the running showed what a superb first half of 2013 he enjoyed.  His aggressive play nearly won him the match but double faults both up and down match point cost him a third round tie with Richard Gasquet. I thought Tsonga showed real guts to get the match to a tiebreak and Benoit Paire could certainly learn a few lessons in how to show heart on the tennis court in front of your home crowd. The tiebreak was a story of the serves as Nishikori produced a duo of aces including a sensational second serve down the T to save a match point.  I do like Nishikori and although I felt he became a little passive from the back of the court in the tiebreak, his all-or-nothing serving won him the match.

1. Roger Federer v Kevin Anderson
Roger Federer
A couple of weeks ago, Roger Federer's position at the World Tour Finals was in serious jeopardy, but things have gone really well for him as his challengers have all struggled in the last two weeks and he managed to string some wins together to make the final in Basel.  Some have reported he is already through but a win for Federer against Kevin Anderson will officially confirm his spot in London.  Anderson had an incredibly consistent first half to the year, but he has tailed off in the second half.  His first round opponent, Mikhail Youzhny served for the win, but failed to do so and then retired in the third set down, 4-6 7-6(0) 2-1.  This will be a first ever match between Anderson and Federer and I expect the Fed to win this one, but fall in his next round with London top of his priority list.

Prediction - Federer to beat Anderson  in 2 sets

2. Philipp Kohlschreiber v Tommy Haas
An all-German affair on court 1 will see a rematch from last week as Philipp Kohlschreiber takes on Tommy Haas.  They played just last week in Valencia where Kohlschreiber prevailed in 3 sets, but I think having played the week before and winning the title in Vienna, Haas would have been tired.  Kohlschreiber came through a tight first round match with Andreas Seppi where he recovered from a break down in the third set to come through with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win.  Kohlschreiber is a beautiful tennis player to watch with his flowing one-handed backhand, but he has always lacked the intensity to fulfill his true potential.  He did well to get past Seppi, but looked less than bothered throughout the whole match.  Kohlschreiber won in Valencia, but I think Haas will be well rested this time round and inflict revenge with a win...

Prediction - Haas to beat Kohlschreiber in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP 2nd Round Paris Predictions
David Ferrer to beat Lukas Rosol in 2 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Nicolas Mahut in 3 sets
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Marin Cilic in 2 sets
Rafael Nadal to beat Marcel Granollers in 2 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Robin Haase in 2 tight sets

John Isner to beat Michal Przysiezny in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Ivan Dodig in 2 tight sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Feliciano Lopez in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Fabio Fognini in 2 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Pablo Andujar in 2 sets

Monday, 28 October 2013

Herbert knocks out gutless Paire, 6-2 6-2 in Bercy

Benoit Paire
Watching a home crowd boo their own player is only something you would see in France, but on this occasion I almost felt that Benoit Paire's attitude deserved it.  Firstly I must say what a superb performance by the 22 year old, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who had played just one match on the ATP tour this year (l. to Florian Mayer in Metz).  After quickly falling 0-2 down and looking like a rabbit in the headlights, the young Frenchman produced a performance beyond his years, displaying real variety and craft as he picked off Paire showing superb cool that his much higher ranked and more experienced opponent failed to do.

It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and criticise Paire, but after a performance like that, he cannot defend himself.  If I behaved like Paire did in my professional career, I would be fired.  The crowd did get on his back very early, but he should have shown his professionalism and rose above it.  The ending was frankly embarrassing and Herbert deserved his win and now gets Novak Djokovic in tomorrow's late night match.  It will be a great experience for Herbert, but Djokovic should come through in two sets.  

In the other second round matches to be played out tomorrow, I think Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be tested by Kei Nishikori more so than their recent match in Shanghai, but I would back Tsonga to prevail.  Like Tsonga, I think Richard Gasquet will lose a set to Fernando Verdasco, but come through.  If Gasquet and Tsonga win, they will meet in the third round and it is highly likely that the winner of that titanic clash will confirm their spot at the World Tour Finals next week.  Finally, Jerzy Janowicz will make his return to Paris and I think he will take out the qualifier, Santiago Giraldo in straight sets.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, 2013: Serena triumphs an underwhelming Championships

This afternoon, Serena Williams defeated Li Na to close out the WTA Champs in an entertaining finale, 2-6 6-3 6-0.  Serena began the match in her semi-final slumber mode although Li came out firing on all cylinders with her successful serve-and-volleying a noteworthy feature of the first two sets.  Serena suddenly found her intensity in the second set, but Li hung well with her to 3-3 before completely fading away.  The third set was such a shame to see as Li did crumble having put in a series of mentally tough performances this week.  It reminded me a lot of the Miami final earlier this year (Serena d. Sharapova, 4-6 6-3 6-0) where Sharapova was stunning for a set and half before Serena woke up and then proceeded to destroy her opponent's spirit.

It was all too easy for Serena this week

For me, this year's event was a rather lacklustre event.  I always look forward to the Year Ending Champs. From the iconic picture of the eight challengers to seeing star-striking clashes day in day out through the group stages, it is always a fitting occasion to end the season.  However right from the get go this year, I wasn't feeling this final outing in Istanbul.  Out of the top ten, I would rank Maria Sharapova as my least favourite player, but I actually missed her at this year's event. The third ranked player in this tournament was Agnieszka Radwanska and no disrespect to her, but there was not one person, who thought she had a hope of winning this week.  Serena was the clear favourite and I didn't see one person calling the tournament differently.  Even miles off her best in the semi-finals and final, Serena was light years ahead of the competition, which unfortunately gave this tournament a rather predictable feeling.

I never thought I would say it, but I missed Maria.

I think the WTA Champs could learn a few things from the ATP World Tour Finals and it seems, things are going to change when the tournament moves to Singapore next year for a five year stint.  The tournament from 2014 will run from a Sunday to a Sunday schedule and I think that will only improve the quality of competition.  Three round robin matches on one day makes the tournament feel rushed and has meant that the finalists play five days out of six, which could see one player competing on five consecutive days if their day off is on the first day, which was the case for Li Na this year.  Another problem has been injuries and niggles; since 2006, there have been only two occasions (including this year) where an alternate has not been called on in the WTA Champs.  In my opinion, the heavy schedule is certainly one of the reasons for all the withdrawals, which are something of a rarity at the ATP World Tour Finals with just one withdrawal in the last four years.

Props to Li for a career best performance at the YEC

Another reason I couldn't get on board with this year's WTA Champs was the lack of quality matches.  Last year was actually great and on the top of my head I can remember Sharapova v Radwanska, Radwanska v Errani and best of all, Azarenka v Kerber, which all were noteworthy matches compared to the whole of 2012.  This year saw a large amount of one sided matches with just four that went to three sets and only two which were mildly memorable in my mind.  I really enjoyed the first set of Kvitova v Kerber, which brought out some exciting rallies with so much up for grabs and today's finale, which was fascinating for the first two sets at least before an unforgettable final set.

Kerber features in so many of my favourite matches

The WTA is set up next year with a clear leader at the top of the rankings and only Azarenka has shown potential in threatening Serena.  I still believe Kvitova could beat Serena on a good day and Jankovic competes against her well, but the rest of the top ten just do not come close.  It was a poor ending to the season, but all in all, it's been a good year for the WTA and where I think it stacks up better than the ATP is the vast talent coming through.  Towards the end of this year, the likes of Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys started to make their presence felt.  I do not think there will be major changes in the top 5 of the rankings next year, but I do see significant upheaval elsewhere and I think next year's top eight qualifying for Singapore will have a significantly different look to it compared to this year...

The future is bright...

Next Week... Technically the WTA still has the Tournament of Champions in Sofia next week although I think it is a waste of time so do not expect a great deal of coverage from me on it this week.  My focus will be on the last ATP Masters 100 event in Paris leading into the World Tour Finals

ATP Paris: Preview and Predictions

This is the last Masters 1000 event of the year and with it taking place the week before the ATP World Tour Finals, it makes it the most challenging draw to dissect.  There is no doubt there will shocks, retirements and things that do not normally happen at the other Masters events.  Let me stress that some of the results I have predicted I would not normally go for, but if you look at the history of this event and particularly last year's Bercy draw, there have always been surprises along the way...

First Quarter: R.Nadal (1) v J.W.Tsonga (8)
J.W. Tsonga
It certainly looks odd to not see Novak Djokovic at the top of a drawsheet as Rafael Nadal officially plays his first tournament as the world number one.  The Spaniard suffered his first hard court losses in Beijing (to Djokovic) and Shanghai (to Del Potro), but he should be refreshed for this week.  His first match of the week will be against Dmitry Tursunov or Marcel Granollers.  His third round opponent is projected to be Jerzy Janowicz, who made the final at this event last year so is therefore defending big points.  He has made a very respectable return to the tour and ran Nadal close in an entertaining match in Canada earlier this year.  

On the other side of this quarter, a trio of home favourites including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau take the helm.  Tsonga had a good result in Shanghai where he made the semi-finals, but still has not looked 100% since returning from a knee injury.  He along with Gasquet, is still fighting for a place at the World Tour Finals and a potential third round meeting would be fascinating.  However despite his woeful record in finals, Julien Benneteau can be a thorn to the big names and if he passes by the struggling, Kei Nishikori, then I could see him taking out Tsonga in round two.  Ernests Gulbis against Fernando Verdasco is a noteworthy first rounder to get your popcorn ready for...

1st Round Predictions: Tursunov to beat Granollers in 3 sets, Verdasco to beat Gulbis in 3 sets and Benneteau to beat Nishikori in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Nadal v Gasquet

Second Quarter: D.Ferrer (3) v T.Berdych (6)
Alexandr Dolgopolov
As the World Tour Finals arrives on our doorstop, it is good news to see David Ferrer finally finding some form again.  The Spaniard has reached the finals in Stockholm and Valencia although he has played the last five weeks in an unnecessarily punishing schedule.  If it he doesn't fall early here, he is hurting his chances in London.  His draw looks relatively straightforward, but my complete punt in the dark is for Alexandr Dolgopolov to make the quarters, beating Gilles Simon in the second round, who had the most baffling of results last week winning just 1 game in a first round loss to Alejandro Falla.

Officially qualified for the World Tour Finals, it is Tomas Berdych's first half to the season that has got him there as his form has tailed off since Wimbledon.  His first match will be a testing one against Gael Monfils or Vasek Pospisil.  Monfils has gone off the radar since beating Roger Federer in Shanghai, but in his home tournament where he has had tremendous success in the past, I think he could ignite once more.  Milos Raonic is also in this section, but he has played a great deal of tennis lately and it will require a sensational performance this week for him to qualify for the World Tour Finals.

1st Round Predictions: Chardy to beat Rosol in 3 sets, Dolgopolov to beat Mahut in 2 tight sets and Monfils to beat Pospisil in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Dolgopolov v Monfils (don't judge me)

Third Quarter: R.Federer (5) v J.M.del Potro (4) 
Grigor Dimitrov
They played out the final in Basel today and Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro are set to meet in the quarters of Paris.  However with both contending the WTF (Federer is not officially confirmed, but he'll be there) I think both will slip out of Paris early this week.  Federer could meet BFF, Tommy Haas in the third round, who has had a truly stunning year.  He does potentially meet his Valencia conqueror, Philipp Kohlschreiber in round two, but he will have been knackered from his title win in Vienna so I see a different result this week.

Del Potro could meet Marin Cilic in the second round after his drugs ban was cut by four months meaning that he can play this week.  I must say it is a baffling and puzzling story to me, and I thought the ban was fair.  He is not a drugs cheat, but he made a silly mistake and should really have paid more for that.  Grigor Dimitrov has done really well in the last two weeks and with a draw like this, which involves a who-knows-what-mood-he-is-in, Fabio Fognini and a potentially tiring DelPo, he could go far this week.

1st Round Predictions: Youzhny to beat Anderson in 2 sets, Kohlschreiber to beat Seppi in 3 sets and Dimitrov to beat Llodra in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Haas v Dimitrov

Fourth Quarter: S.Wawrinka (7) v N.Djokovic (2)
Nicolas Almagro
Novak Djokovic bookends the draw and having not played since Shanghai, I think he will compete hard this week to get him ready tuned for London.  His first match of the week will be against Benoit Paire or a qualifier with an eye to a potential third round match with John Isner.  The big dude did great in the US, but once again, has struggled for consistent wins elsewhere.  If Djokovic has his eye on London then his stumbling block is likely to be Isner in the third round as the American has notched up two previous wins against him.

Stanley Wawrinka is in a prime position to qualify for the WTF, particularly with two of his closest challengers, Gasquet and Tsonga poised to meet in the third round.  His draw is favourable, but he has not been firing on all cylinders lately.  His first encounter will be against Feliciano Lopez or a qualifier before a potential third rounder against Nicolas Almagro.  The Spaniard has somehow managed to turn his year around and despite another crushing loss to David Ferrer in Valencia, he is finally playing good, confident tennis again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Almagro make another quarter-final this week as Stanley tightens up with the prospect of London in his sight.

1st Round Predictions: Dodig to beat Roger-Vasselin in 2 tight sets,

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Almagro v Djokovic

Moo's Final Prediction: Djokovic d. Nadal
I have gone for a great deal of shocks in my draw this week, but I have still gone for a Djokovic-Nadal final.  It's a tough one to call overall but on the winner, I have gone safe this week.