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Thursday, November 18, 2010
Predicting World Tour Finals outcome

By Ravi Ubha, ESPN.com



On Tuesday, the draw was made for the eagerly anticipated year-end championships in London. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick landed in Group A, while Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Andy Murray and David Ferrer surfaced in Group B.

Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray to make the semifinals, you say? Perhaps not.

ESPN.com breaks down the field:

Group A

Rafael Nadal

Previous appearances: 3

2010 Slam results (chronological order): QF, W, W, W

Record versus group: 28-13

Outlook:
Nadal needs matches to hit form -- it's been evident throughout his career. So not playing for a month heading into London, where the best in the world await, wasn't in the script. How will shoulder tendinitis affect the world No. 1? If he's unable to manufacture free points on serve, the kind he produced at the U.S. Open, things become tougher competing in his least preferred setting (indoors on a hard court).

Novak Djokovic

Previous appearances: 3

2010 Slam results: QF, QF, SF, F

Record versus group: 12-21

Outlook:
This tournament is huge, yes, but Djokovic would rather win the Davis Cup final. That's a no-brainer. His Serbia hosts France five days after the London finale, with Djokovic the main man for the home team. Djokovic probably won't be overexerting himself in London, even if he is playing in a best-of-three format and has days off between matches.

Tomas Berdych

Previous appearances: 0

2010 Slam results: 2nd, SF, F, 1st

Record versus group: 6-17

Outlook:
As the lone debutante, Berdych has no pressure. Maybe he'll wake up. The Czech baseliner with effortless power is riding a massive slump, going 3-9 in his past 12. At the Paris Masters last week, Berdych went from looking great in the first set to dreadful by the end of it against Nikolay Davydenko.

Andy Roddick

Previous appearances: 5

2010 Slam results: QF, 3rd, 4th, 2nd

Record versus group: 14-9

Outlook:
Roddick didn't have the season he wanted. Thanks in large part to a bout of mono, he reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal. However, Roddick finished the regular season on a high, landing the final spot in London. He will have the fans on his side, possesses a good record against Djokovic and Berdych, and downed Nadal in their last meeting.

Group prediction: Nadal, Roddick to advance.

Group B

Roger Federer

Previous appearances: 8

2010 Slam results: W, QF, QF, SF

Record versus group: 29-9

Outlook:
Sometimes banged up this time of the year, Federer says he feels good. Mentally, though, will any part of the Swiss be thinking about Paris, where he blew five match points against Gael Monfils? It was the fourth time Federer held match points in 2010, only to lose. Federer has owned Soderling since the French Open, never loses to Ferrer and beat Murray in London in 2009.

Robin Soderling

Previous appearances: 1

2010 Slam results: 1st, F, QF, QF

Record versus group: 12-19

Outlook:
Soderling needed the title in Paris. He had dipped mightily since falling to Nadal in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, unable to defeat foes he should have and twice getting pummeled by Federer. Soderling toughed it out in Paris, battling illness in his opener, rallying from 5-1 down in the third round and saving match points in the semifinal.


Andy Murray

Previous appearances: 2

2010 Slam results: F, 4th, SF, 3rd

Record versus group: 11-10

Outlook:
Murray has disappointed in 2010. The Scot couldn't raise his game in the Australian Open final and Wimbledon semifinal, then succumbed early to the still-mentally suspect Stanislas Wawrinka at the U.S. Open. Injury or no injury, call it a sizable upset. Unlike Berdych, Murray might be feeling the pressure because he's playing at home (sort of).

David Ferrer

Previous appearances: 1

2010 Slam results: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th

Record versus group: 6-20

Outlook:
Ferrer has done a nice job climbing the rankings when most thought his better days were long gone. Although he's the solitary attendee to miss out on a Grand Slam quarterfinal this campaign, the relentless Spaniard won two titles, reached five finals and tallied 60 victories, usurped only by Nadal. Ferrer sports a winning record against Murray and is 2-1 in his past three against Soderling. Against the odds, Ferrer progressed to the tournament final in 2007.


Group prediction: Federer, Soderling to advance.

Semifinals: Federer def. Roddick, Soderling def. Nadal.

Final: Federer def. Soderling.