Author: Paul Reece
Published: 11:41 05/09/2014
As the 2014 Tennis season reaches its climax, the top eight players in the World will go head-to-head in the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Trio Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the first to secure their position and assuming the three are all fit they will take some beating.
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Djokovic has produced another fine performance at the recent US Open along with 33-year-old Federer while Nadal missed the competition through injury.
Andy Murray, however, faces a fight to qualify with the star enduring a difficult 2014 as he struggled with both form and fitness.
The Scottish star was knocked out of the US Open in the quarter-final round at the hands of Djokovic and he is struggling to make the cut this year.
Even if he does, the 27-year-old is not performing at the high level that he reached in the past with his match fitness still not quite there.
Federer, meanwhile, will be chasing a seventh ATP World Tour Finals title after qualifying for a record 13th successive season.
And Switzerland star is expected to be joined in London by his Davis Cup team mate Stanislas Wawrinka.
The 29-year-old Australia Open winner is looking a safe bet to secure his spot in the competition after a fantastic 2014.
Kei Nishikori knocked the Swiss star out of the US Open in the quarter-finals but he will still provide a stern test to the big three if he can, as expected, secure his spot at the 02 Arena.
The 24-year-old Nishikori, meanwhile, will have done his own chances of reaching the competition no harm with his performances at the final Grand Slam of the year.
He was the first Japanese tennis player to reach a major Grand Slam semi-final in 81-years and also knocked out World no.6 Milos Raonic out of the competition.
Other contenders include Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych and Raonic.
The trio were all inside the top eight prior to the US Open but with the likes of Murray and Nishikori chasing them they will need to continue to perform at the highest level to gurantee a spot in London.
Dimitrov will be familiar to British tennis fans as the man who knocked Murray out of Wimbledon earlier in the year.
The 23-year-old began the year 23rd in the world rankings and headed into the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year inside the top 10, and above Murray.
Bulgaria’s top tennis player underperformed in the States, however, crashing out in the last-16 at the hands of France’s Gael Monfils.
Czech star Berdych, meanwhile, reached a career high 5th in the world rankings earlier this year and made it to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old also reached the quarter-finals of the French Open and enjoyed a solid US Open and should earn his spot if he can continue that sort of form into the final couple of months of the season.
If it safe to say that the winner will probably come from one of the ‘big three’ though.
Nadal has reached the final of the Australian and won the French Open this year.
While Djokovic won Wimbledon and reached the final of the French Open.
And the Serbian star has won the title for the past two years, defeating Nadal in the 2013 final and Federer 2012.
Federer, meanwhile, won the competition in 2011 and 2010 and it is the one competition to so far elude Nadal.
The Spanish star has reached the semi-finals twice and final twice but has win percentage of just 54% in the competition compared to his 87% win record in the Grand Slam events.
Could this be the year he finals adds the ATP World Tour Finals title to his vast trophy cabinet?
He reached the final of the Australian Open, losing to Wawrinka and continued his dominant French Open record with another fine performance at Roland Garros.
The Spaniard crashed out of Wimbledon at the hands of Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios, however, and missed the US Open with a wrist injury.
He may be missing the necessary match practice heading into the competition but he should not be if he fit he should be considered a threat.
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