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Rafael Nadal And Roger Federer Face Differing Paths in Nitto World Tour Tennis Finals

Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during his first round match against USA’s Frances Tiafoe at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel, Switzerland, 24 October 2017. EPA-EFE/GEORGIOS KEFALAS

 

 

Roger Federer launches his quest for a seventh World Tour Finals title alongside the only man to beat him in a final this season.

 

The draw for the ATP World Tour Finals was conducted in London today.

 

The second-ranked Federer heads the Boris Becker Group that features Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Paris Masters champion Jack Sock, the eighth man to qualify for the field.

 

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has drawn Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem in the Pete Sampras round-robin group for the eight-man event at London’s O2 Arena.

 

Round-robin play begins on Sunday.

 

The top two finishers in each group will advance to the World Tour Finals semifinals set for Saturday, November 18th.

 

The round-robin stage of the tournament will host a rematch of the Wimbledon final featuring Federer against Cilic, whom he thrashed 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, collecting his 19th Grand Slam title at SW19. Federer has won seven of eight meetings with Cilic with the Croatian’s lone victory coming in the 2014 US Open semifinals. Their last three encounters have come in Grand Slam play.

 

Six-time World Tour Finals champion Federer is bidding for his first season-ending championship since 2011 when he dispatched Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

 

Federer’s biggest challenge in round-robin play could come from Zverev, the first German to win five ATP titles in a season since Becker did it in 1996.

 

The third-ranked Zverev has split four career meetings with the Wimbledon champion, including a 6-3, 6-4, sweep in the Montreal final in August.

 

Since that setback, Federer has posted a 14-1 record, including winning the Shanghai Rolex Masters crown and his 95th career title in his hometown tournament in Basel.

 

Combating fatigue from playing 74 matches this year, the 20-year-old Zverev has gone 8-7 since defeating Federer in the Montreal final and will try to recharge ahead of his London debut.

 

The 36-year-old Swiss has won all six sets he’s played against Sock with all three matches on hard courts.

 

On paper, Nadal seems to have a smoother path to the semifinals than archrival Federer.

 

The question is: Will the top-seeded Spaniard play?

 

And if so, will he be compromised by the cranky right knee that forced him to pull out of the Rolex Paris Masters last week?

 

Nadal’s doctor said the top seed is suffering from right knee tendinitis and his team is committed to “do everything possible” to play London.

 

“We have done and are going to do everything possible,” Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro told Cope radio yesterday. “He was worried and we did a series of tests, but there was nothing serious detected in his tendon.

 

“You have to be optimistic (about playing London), but also realistic faced with this situation at the end of an extraordinary season. You have to be careful. Health takes priority.”

 

Nadal owns a combined 17-3 record against competitors in the Pete Sampras Group.

 

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is 10-1 vs. Dimitrov, including a five-set semifinal victory at the Australian Open in January and a pair of three-set wins in Beijing and Shanghai. Nadal has not dropped a set to Goffin in their two meetings, both contested on clay and the 10-time Roland Garros champion has won five of seven meetings vs. Thiem with all seven matches staged on red clay.

 

Nadal has yet to win the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

The 31-year-old Spaniard was runner-up to Federer in 2010 and fell to Novak Djokovic in the 2013 season-ending final.

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