The NITTO ATP World Tour Finals will have been a bit of anti-climax for fans of world number one and top seed Nadal and second seed Federer, who were both expected to dominate their Groups last week and then meet in Sunday’s final. However, Nadal could not complete the tournament due to injury and had to withdraw during the group stage while Federer was shocked in the semi-final by seventh seed Goffin who came from a set down to end the Swiss Masters chances of winning a record seventh World Tours Finals title.
Sixth seed Dimitrov reached the final as the only unbeaten player in the tournament having won all three of his group matches and semi-final against eighth seed Sock on Saturday. He faced Goffin in Sunday’s final and while Goffin put up a real fight it was Dimitrov who emerged the victor to land his first World Tour Final title and further consolidate his top 10 position.
Looking ahead to next year’s ATP Tour and the first Grand Slam of the season at the Australian Open, I am going to provide a couple of ante-post bets for the event. I feel there is little advantage to be gained by waiting until the eve of the tournament as pre-season form rarely counts for anything and 2017 was a perfect reminder of that. Not many pundits, if any, expected veterans and out of form legends Nadal and Federer to contest the final and go on to produce arguably the best seasons of their illustrious careers.
While it’s possible Nadal and Federer could repeat their 2017 runs at the 2018 Australian Open, I’m willing to oppose them again. Nadal’s troublesome knee is clearly still a hindrance and a two-month period that includes pre-season training may not be enough to overcome the injury on this occasion. Likewise, Federer has less than two months to recover from a gruelling 2017 season that includes pre-season training and it has to be remembered that he won the 2017 Australian Open after a 6 month lay-off.
2016 semi-finalist Dimitrov (28/1) has to be given a second chance after coming so close last year and that experience will hopefully spur him on to taking the next step of reaching the finals of a Slam and hopefully winning a maiden Slam in 2018. Goffin (66/1) reached the fourth round last year where he lost to Nadal and as long as he stays fit I believe he will better that result at the 2018 event as he’s got a lot more experience, especially in the five set format. He has been playing regularly at Slams now for over five years and in the Davis Cup where he has lead Belgium to a title in 2016 and final in 2017. Along with Zverev, Nishikori, Raonic, Dimitrov, Sock, Carreno-Busta and Pouille he’s emerging as one a number of experienced young players who look likely to replace Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka at the top of the men’s game once they retire.