Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

The return of Nishikori ahead of ATP Tour Finals

He fell to Marin Cilic in the final of the 2014 US Open He fell to Marin Cilic in the final of the 2014 US Open
Frederick Owens | 10 November, 2018, 23:46

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were among the big names recognized at this year's ATP World Tour season-end award announcement in London. The battle royale will begin in London on Sunday, with Anderson and Thiem playing the opener.

Federer and Djokovi, who have 34 Grand Slams between them, are the top two bills for the tournament that lacks star power like the injured Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, former champion Andy Murray as well as defending champion Grigor Dimitrov.

Isner hopes to make a similar impact to compatriot Jack Sock, who reached the semis on his debut a year ago before losing to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov. Bercow (who took up office when the Finals first came to the O2 in 2009) might well faint from joy if that happens next Sunday.

Six of the world's top eight are present though including perennial London favourite Roger Federer who, aged 37, will be appearing at the ATP showpiece for the 16th time looking for a seventh title and a first since 2011. "I'm going to compete thinking I've been given a bonus", said Nishikori, who had a one-hour training session with fifth-ranked German Alexander Zverev before the press conference. "I'll play with confidence", he said.

"But there was always part of me that believed I could make it back and I never thought it was impossible".

Federer will have been buoyed by his battling performance against Djokovic in the semi-final of the Paris Masters last week but he still lost the match - his fourth consecutive defeat against Djokovic, with the Serb now leading their head-to-head 25-22.

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World number eight Dominic Thiem is appearing in the finals for the third straight year but he has previously been knocked out in the round-robin stage on both occasions so he will look to improve on that record at the very least.

"I don't want it to move from London", he said. "It turned out to be a flawless five months".

Nadal this week pulled out of the tournament in London - guaranteeing Djokovic will end the season as the world number one.

A champion's mentality instilled by Chang and Nishikori at his own accord saw him win a Challenger event at the beginning of the year in Dallas - It was back to basics.

After admitting he returned too soon from elbow surgery in February, his game clicked into gear at Wimbledon where he beat Nadal in a classic semi-final then swept past Kevin Anderson to the title.

Djokovic is the current favorite to win the event with 8/13 odds while Federer is behind him with 11/4 odds.

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