LONDON • Six-time champion Roger Federer was paired in the same group as German debutant Alexander Zverev for next week's ATP Tour Finals when the draw was made in host city London yesterday.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who is hoping to recover from a knee injury to play in the season-ending showpiece which he has never won, heads the other group and will face Belgian David Goffin, Bulgarian debutant Grigor Dimitrov and Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Nadal has a 67-10 win-loss record in 2017 and will compete in his 13th successive Finals. He reached the 2010 and 2013 final, losing to Federer and Novak Djokovic respectively.
In the Pete Sampras group with Federer is Croat Marin Cilic, whom he beat in this year's Wimbledon final, and American Jack Sock, who crept into the tournament after winning the Paris Masters.
Even before the schedule was announced late yesterday, Federer revealed he will open his Finals campaign against Sock, who he has beaten on all three occasions they have met, including a 6-1, 7-6 victory at Indian Wells this year.
The 36-year-old has a 52-12 career record at the Finals, with titles in 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2010-11. He tweeted yesterday: "Starting on Sunday @ 2pm vs Jack Sock."
Sock is the first American to qualify for the ATP Finals since Mardy Fish in 2011. He boasts a repertoire of skills which might trouble Federer.
Group Pete Sampras
Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Dominic Thiem (Austria)
Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
David Goffin (Belgium)
Group Boris Becker
Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Alexander Zverev (Germany)
Marin Cilic (Croatia)
Jack Sock (United States)
The 19-time Grand Slam champion has won a Tour-best seven titles this year, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon. His only loss in a final this season came at the Canadian Open to Zverev.
The 20-year-old has taken men's tennis by storm this year, rocketing up to No. 3 in the world rankings after winning five titles, including two Masters 1000 events.
"It's an honour to play there in London, it's my first time and hopefully not my last," Zverev said in Milan where he took part in an exhibition match at the Next Gen Finals, having dropped out to concentrate on London. "I will try to prepare myself as well as I can and try to win many matches there."
On the second day of the group stages of the Next Gen tournament which features several rule tweaks, Russian Karen Khachanov beat American Jared Donaldson 4-1, 4-3 (3), 4-2 yesterday.
Zverev is one of three first-timers with Dimitrov finally qualifying, long after being projected to become a regular member of the men's elite.
Goffin has also qualified for the first time, although last year he played a match as an alternate.
The draw, which took place on BBC Radio, was delayed because Boris Becker, who Nadal's group is named after, was held up by traffic on his way to the studio.
Several big names are missing for this year's Nov 12-19 tournament at the O2 Arena through injury, including 2016 winner Andy Murray, four-time London winner Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
NEXT GEN ATP FINALS
Day 3: StarHub Ch201, 9pm & tomorrow, 2.30am