Novak Djokovic is having a whale of a time. By the time 2014 began, he already had Boris Becker in his coaching arsenal, which also included the members of his erstwhile team. Djokovic walked through the year with a truly creditable performance winning several tournaments, including the coveted Wimbledon. At the same time, the Serb faced some unavoidable losses, which he took them in his stride. After Wimbledon, he got married to his childhood sweetheart Jelena Ristic and less than a month ago, he became a father of Stefan Djokovic. He celebrated the fatherhood by winning the BNP Paribas Paris Masters for the third time since 2009. At the ongoing Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic is already in line for a semifinal berth. He has been a champion here for 2012 and 2013 and it won’t come as a surprise to anyone if he does it again in 2014.
Another likely semifinalist is Roger Federer, who has already won both his opening round-robin games against Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. The Swiss has a great turnaround in 2014 after a miserable 2013 and although he couldn’t win any of the grand slams, his performance remained quite impressive all through 2014. Federer has won the Barclays ATP World Tour season finale 6 times in all in his career but when it comes to playing Djokovic, it will not be easy for the big Swiss though he has a 44-11 tournament record and only once has he missed the semifinal here.
The tournament began on November 9 and on day 1, Federer and Nishikori emerged winners in their scheduled matches. Federer defeated Raonic 6-1, 7-6 in an hour and 28 minutes while the Japanese beat Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4. On the same day two doubles matches were also played. In the first, Granollers/Lopez defeated Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 6-4 and in the other match Dodig & Melo defeated Nestor & Zimonjic 6-3, 7-5. On November 10, Wawrinka and Djokovic scored easy and identical 6-1, 6-1 victories over their opponents. Wawrinka beat Berdych and Djokovic defeated Cilic. In the doubles, the Bryan brothers lost their opening match to Kubot/Lindstedt, while Peya/Soares fought hard against Rojer/Tecau before coming through 6-3, 3-6, 12-10. On Tuesday’s singles matches, Federer recorded his second successive victory against Nishikori, whom he beat 6-3, 6-2 while Murray also emerged 6-3, 7-5 winner against Cilic. In the doubles matches, Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin defeated Nestor & Zimonjic 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 and Dodig & Melo scored their second successive victory by beating Granollers/Lopez 7-6, 7-6.
At this stage, the tournament is interestingly poised with semifinal qualifications depending more on other players’ performances, in addition to one’s own. As an example, a) if Federer beats Murray and Nishikori defeats Raonic then Federer wins the group and Nishikori qualifies; or; b) if Murray defeats Federer and Raonic defeats Nishikori then Murray would win the group and Federer will still qualify or; c) If Federer defeats Murray in 2 sets and Raonic defeats Nishikori in 2 sets then Federer wins the group and the qualifying player will depend of the percentage of games that he has won. There are several other permutations and combinations but Federer has the best chance to enter the semifinal at this point of time.
In group A, Djokovic will qualify if he beats Wawrinka and Cilic beats Berdych or if Djokovic beats Wawrinka in in 2 sets and Berdych beats Cilic in 3 sets. There are other combinations of events but Djokovic looks set to enter the semifinals.
In the doubles, the permutations and combinations are too complicated and although the tournament favorites Bryan twins have lost on the first day, they still have a chance to bounce back.