Despite the fact it comes at the end of a long season, the ATP World Finals (11th-18th November, London) tends to be just as competitively contested as any of the Grand Slams. Of course, injuries can take their toll by November, so we are often missing a big name or two, but, perhaps buoyed by the $8,000,000 prize fund, players have the Finals chalked up as a must win event. In most cases that ensures the ATP Finals follows the pattern of the Slams, meaning one of the so-called Big 4 usually gets their name on the trophy and ends the season on a high.
We could probably point to last year as something of an outlier, with winner Grigor Dimitrov capitalising on the absence of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and the late-withdrawal of Rafael Nadal to take the most significant win of his career. Nadal, in fact, has never won the event, clearly the biggest omission on his glowing resume, but Djokovic and Federer have dominated the event’s history with five and six titles respectively.
Djokovic clear favourite on the eve of Finals
Indeed, the latest ATP Finals betting odds make good reading for fans of Djokovic. The Serbian, who has begun to really reassert his dominance in the men’s game again, is odds-on with all major bookies to take his sixth title and equal Federer’s record haul. While odds of 8/11 might not look overly big to punters, they do reflect Djokovic’s return to something akin to his best, as well as the fact he has a better head to head record on indoor hardcourts against his two main rivals, Federer and Nadal.
In fact, Djokovic will have another goal in mind in London: Taking that world number one spot from Nadal. The Serbian has made up huge ground in the rankings in the last five months, going from tearful early exits and a low of 22nd in the world in late-spring to second place behind Nadal by the end of October. Djokovic is favourite for every Slam in 2019, with the notable exception of the Nadal-dominated French Open, so it is that clear bookies believe another period of Djokovic dominance is on the way in a similar vein to 2015/16.
Certainly, value-hunting punters will want to look beyond Djokovic in the ATP Finals, and there is some good value available, even if you are looking at each-way betting. Federer is coming in at odds of around 5/2, and the Swiss does have the ability to save his best for the biggest tournaments these days. Nadal will definitely tempt some at 6/1, but his record in this tournament is poor and one wonders if the Spaniard tends to be looking to the next season at this stage of the year.
Zverev must justify his odds
A seemingly rejuvenated Juan Martin Del Potro may have been the man to give the big guns a run for their money, but he has a suspected fracture to his patella and his official withdrawal announcement is expected imminently. Others might bank on Alexander Zverev (9/1) finally turning potential into a big, career-defining prize. Others who might temp punters as a long shot include Kevin Anderson and Marin Cilic, who are both available at around 25/1.
However, in the straight outright betting it’s hard to look beyond any of Djokovic, Nadal or Federer. The former, in particular, looks to be in typical juggernaut form, marching inexorably towards that sixth title and number one spot. Djokovic may seem short in the odds, but that’s because he looks fresher, fitter and better than everyone else as we close out this tennis season.