London - Defending champion Novak Djokovic
has been handed an early showdown with Roger Federer as the world number one
launches his bid for a fourth successive ATP Tour Finals title.
Djokovic arrives in south 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 and cement his
position on top of the world rankings.
The 28-year-old Serb will get a quick test
of his appetite for further success on the banks of the River Thames when he
faces Swiss great 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 impressive feat if he lifts the trophy on November 22.
If Djokovic triumphs he will also draw
level with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl as five-time Tour Finals winners.
Also in Djokovic's group are Japan's Kei
Nishikori, his first opponent when the event gets underway on Sunday, and Czech
world number five Tomas Berdych.
"This has been, by far, the most
successful season of my life and I just try to better it," Djokovic said.
Despite having won so much over the last 11
months, 10-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic has shown no signs of easing up as
the season winds down.
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
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 number two has never won the Tour
Finals, but he may not be too concerned if he makes an early exit on home turf
this year as he has made the Davis Cup his number one priority in recent
Murray has led Great Britain in 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
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, but it will be
intriguing to see how he reacts if his troublesome lower back injury flares up
over the coming week.
Federer, mindful of Switzerland's looming
Davis Cup final appearance, pulled out of last year's Tour Finals final against
Djokovic due to injury.
"I feel fresh and hopefully I can play
some good tennis this week," Murray said.
"I feel good about the Davis Cup
final. I have been practising at Queen's on clay for the past four days."
Group Ilie Nastase
Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer
Group Stan Smith
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori