The 2018 Comeback Player of the year and the newly crowned World No. 1 Novak Djokovic seeks a record tying 6th title in the English capital. On the opposite side is John Isner, who benefitted from Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal to punch his ticket to the Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena.
Isner joins a select few Americans (Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, and Jack Sock) to qualify since the season-ending finale moved to London in 2009. His opening match is arguably the toughest assignment in men’s tennis right now. Only two men have beaten Djokovic after his Wimbledon triumph (Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto and Karen Khachanov in Paris Bercy).
Isner will have the formidable task of producing a Khachanov-like display to have any chance of beating the Serb. The 33-year-old won his first Masters 1000 in Miami earlier this year and is looking for a rare upset over Djokovic. Their last meeting was three years ago in the indoor hard courts of Beijing when Djokovic dispatched the American in straight sets.
Few could have fathomed that the Serbian superstar would be among the world’s eight elite let alone return to world number 1. Following his loss to Marco Cecchinato at this year’s French Open, he rediscovered his “mojo” and has never looked back. He defied the odds to win Wimbledon, completed a career Masters 1000 sweep and was unplayable at the US Open where he clinched his 3rd title at the Big Apple.
The Serb’s 21-match winning streak was brought to an end though when he ran into an inspired Russian rising star Karen Khachanov in Bercy who took out four top ten players en route to winning his first Masters 1000 title. As shocking as that result was, it was inevitable. Djokovic needed three sets to down Cilic in the quarters, a three-hour epic to defeat Federer in the semis and played Khachanoc who was quite simply unstoppable during the week.
Embed from Getty Images
Prediction: Here is one very strange stat. Of the ten matches they have played–including their 2010 Davis Cup meeting, nine of them have had at least one tie break. Isner will need to serve impeccably well to stay with Djokovic in the set. I cannot go against the Serb in this one. I think if it goes into a tie break then it’s a coin toss and Isner has every chance of winning a set, but Djokovic is massive favorite here.
Pick: Djokovic in two
Embed from Getty Images