Early test for Djokovic

World No. 1, bidding to be 1st to win 4 straight Tour Finals, faces Federer in group

LONDON • Novak Djokovic has been handed an early showdown with Roger Federer as the world No. 1 launches his bid for a fourth successive ATP Tour Finals title.

The Serb arrives in south-east London hoping to win the prestigious season-ending event for a fifth time to cap another remarkable year that saw him win three Grand Slam crowns.

He will get a quick test of his appetite for further success on the banks of the River Thames when he faces Federer in the 43rd instalment of their rivalry.

They are tied at 21 wins each, with Djokovic defeating Federer in the Wimbledon and US Open finals this year.

Federer is no slouch at the Tour Finals either, having won the tournament a record six times, but not even he reeled off four successive titles and Djokovic would become the first player to achieve that feat if he lifts the trophy next Sunday.

Also in Djokovic's group are Japan's Kei Nishikori, his first opponent when the event gets under way tomorrow, and Czech world No. 5 Tomas Berdych.

"This has been, by far, the most successful season of my life and I just try to better it," Djokovic said.

Since losing to Federer in the Cincinnati final in August, Djokovic has embarked on a 22-match winning run that has brought him the US Open, the China Open and Masters 1000 titles in Shanghai and Paris.

The other group in the round-robin tournament, which features the world's top eight players, sees Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer pitted together.

Most of the interest in that group will focus on former Wimbledon champion Murray.

The world No. 2 has never won the Tour Finals, but he may not be too concerned if he makes an early exit as he has made the Davis Cup his top priority in recent months.

Murray has led Britain to their first Davis Cup final in 37 years and his country will bid for a first title since 1936, when they face Belgium in Ghent less than a week after the end of the Tour Finals.

After previously hinting he might pull out of the Tour Finals to give him more time to adapt to the clay surface chosen for the Davis Cup final, Murray has decided to participate.

"I feel fresh and hopefully I can play some good tennis this week," said the 28-year-old.

"I feel good about the Davis Cup final. I have been practising at Queen's on clay for the past four days."

Whatever happens, Murray will still have ample opportunity to shine on home soil.

ATP chief Chris Kermode revealed on Thursday that the prestigious season-ender will remain in London until 2018.

The economic and sporting success of the event in London persuaded the ATP to keep the tournament in the British capital.

"We are delighted to have reached an agreement which will see the tournament celebrate its 10th successive year in London in 2018," Kermode said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'EARLY TEST FOR DJOKOVIC'. Print Edition | Subscribe