Race to the Finish

Written By: achangeofends - Oct• 07•10

If you read A Change of Ends, even occasionally, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little absent lately. There are a lot of reasons that I haven’t been writing as much lately. First, and mostly importantly, it turns out college seniors have a lot of work to do. Second, looking for a job takes almost as much time as actually having one. Third, my whirlwind tour of tennis tournaments has officially ended for the year. Finally, the tail end of the tennis season is surprisingly boring, and incredibly difficult to watch considering the time difference.

However, I anticipate things heating up in the next few weeks. So far, only two men have qualified for the World Tour Finals in London. That leaves six hotly contested spots at the O2. As it stands now, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Berdych, Roddick, and Verdasco round out the top 8. However, we still have some big tournaments to play, including the Shanghai Masters event. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Djokovic, Murray, and Soderling will qualify. Something absolutely disastrous would have to happen for them to fall out of the race for top 8. That leaves 3 spots up for grabs.

The ATP website lists the top 16 men in the race, but 12-16 would basically need to win everything from here on out to qualify. This means that the remaining spots are likely going to be filled by three of the following: Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer, Mikhail Youzhny, and Jurgen Melzer. Verdasco fell in the first round of the Beijing tournament this week, as did Mikahil Youzhny. Ferrer, an incredibly talented played who tends to fly under the radar, is through to the quarters, where he will face Robin Soderling. Jurgen Melzer is by all means the dark horse in the race for the World Tour Finals, for singles at least. He has already qualified for the doubles WTF. He’s at his highest ranking ever and less than 1000 points behind Verdasco in the race. It would be awesome to see some new faces in the top 8. I think we’ll almost certainly see Tomas Berdych in London for the first time this year and it would be great to see him joined by Jurgen. However, I think Ferrer may swoop in and take the last spot. Andy Roddick has made the World Tour Finals for seven consecutive years, and I fully expect him to make it to an eighth. This week, Roddick is in the quarterfinals at the Rakuten Japan Open, where he will face Gael Monfils. The winner goes on to a semifinal matchup with either Radek Stepanek or Jarko Nieminen. This week is a great opportunity for Andy to grab some more points.

Andrea’s Top 8 Picks

Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray

Robin Soderling

Tomas Berdych

Andy Roddick

David Ferrer

As for the ladies, in their race for the Doha finals is almost finished. They’ve locked in six of the eight finalists already. However, it looks like injury could be a major factor in how things play out. So far, Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Sam Stosur, and Francesca Schiavone have all qualified for the WTA Championships. Competing for those final two spots are Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Victoria Azarenka, and Justine Henin. This top 10 has been riddled with injury this year, even amongst the players who have already qualified. Serena hasn’t played since Wimbledon. Kim’s currently out with something. Sam was having some issues in August. More importantly, injuries are plaguing the four ladies still looking to qualify.

We all remember that Victoria Azarenka collapsed in her second round US Open match and had to be taken to the hospital. Vika had an amazing summer, but since the USO, she’s seemed to have some serious issues. In her last two tournaments, she’s been forced to retire from her matches. I’m not sure she’s going to be able to consistently play well enough to clinch one of those last two spots. Justine Henin, like Serena, hasn’t played since Wimbledon. She even went so far as to declare her 2010 season over. We’ll see if she sticks to that. If not, she actually has a reasonably good chance of clinching that eighth spot. Jankovic may not be injured, but you wouldn’t know that the way she’s played this year. The former world number one has been incredibly inconsistent with some very lackluster results this year. I do think Elena Dementieva will manage to take one of the last two slots. She’s been playing quite well in the last few weeks. I don’t think she’ll necessarily win the upcoming tournaments, but she’ll gather enough points to qualify for Doha.

Andrea’s Top 8 Picks

Caroline Wozniacki

Vera Zvonareva

Serena Williams

Kim Clijsters

Sam Stosur

Francesca Schiavone

Jelena Jankovic

Elena Dementieva

Also, check out my latest post, “Will They Ever Win…Again?” at Tennis Grandstand.

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