Fresh off his top tip for Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the NextGen Finals, Derek Bilton is back to try and win you some more money this week.
Another memorable season on the Tour reaches its climax in London this week with the Nitto ATP Finals. The season-ending tournament has crowned some of the greatest champions in the sport down the years, so it was a seismic shock to see Grigor Dimitrov walk off with the trophy 12 months ago.
It seems worth noting that, historically, the cream has usually risen to the top in this event, even at this late stage of the season. Indeed Dimitrov, David Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the only players outside of the ‘Big Four’ to have made the final over the past decade.
Dazzling Serb Novak Djokovic is an odds-on favourite across the board to win and it’s easy to see why as he’s enjoyed a truly phenomenal year. His star looked on the wane until his historic return from elbow surgery (and a No 22 ATP Ranking back in June) to clinch year-end No 1.
His record and his level over the past few months has been astonishing. Indeed few who saw his toe-to-toe classic in Paris against Roger Federer will forget it in a hurry. That win saw him go 22 matches unbeaten, and while he then lost in the final to Karen Khachanov there were mitigating circumstances. So with a week of rest and fine tuning under his belt he’s clearly the man to beat in London.
Of the ATP Finals outsiders Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic are both 16/1 pokes, while you can get 33/1 about John Isner being the last man standing. All three have been poor in recent months though so not for the first time it looks like the grand old master, Roger Federer, could be left to take the fight to Djokovic.
Federer is chasing his 100th ATP title and would clearly love to get the ton up in London. He leads the way with six titles here (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011). That’s one more than Djokovic and one more even than legends such as Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl. Federer has qualified for 16 Tour Finals (another record) and has a 55-13 lifetime record at the event.
He has been given an uncomplicated draw too and should top the Hewitt Group made up of the Swiss, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson.
He absolutely blew Nishikori away a few weeks ago in Paris while Thiem has endured a wretched few months and is only here because of his blistering early season form. Anderson’s serve means he will always be dangerous but he doesn’t have enough variety to trouble a dialled in Federer.
He’s heavy odds on to win the group and you’d give him a puncher’s chance against anyone after that, particularly if his serve clicks like it did at the Paris Masters.
Since bombing at the US Open Federer has made the last four in Shanghai and Paris, and won on home soil in Basel. Reports of an irreversible decline then seem greatly exaggerated. At 37 there is still plenty in the tank and I feel he has the drive, fitness and sheer talent to eventually knock off Jimmy Connors’s Open-era men’s record of 109 titles.
If anyone is going to get the better of Djokovic this week it’s Federer, and to be fair it’s insane what the great man is still capable of at 37. Look for him to roll back the years again this week and don’t miss the 5/2 about him doing the business again in London at the ATP Finals.
Bilko’s Banker: Roger Federer to win the ATP Finals at 5/2 (888 Sport)
Here is our pictorial from day nine at the 2019 Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal already looking ahead to semis.
Czech in no mood to party.
Are we seeing the sparks of a legendary rivalry?
What next for Greek sensation?
A week is a long time in tennis…
Unseeded American marches on.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is into his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.
Patrick Mouratoglou says Serena Williams is in top shape.
A public row has erupted between Jamie Murray and Dan Evans.