12/30/12 6:05 AM | Ricky Dimon
Tennistalk wraps up its offseason coverage with its annual World Tour Finals predictions. Part 1 features qualifiers 5-8.
5. David Ferrer – If you think this is the year Ferrer finally starts slowing down, think again. Like a fine wine, the Spaniard is only getting better with age. So when he turns 31 in April, what should we expect? Probably even better results, such as—perhaps—a title in Barcelona and maybe a few Masters finals (depending in part on the health of Rafael Nadal). Ferrer won a hard-to-fathom 76 matches in 2012, five of which came on the way to his biggest career title this fall at the Paris Masters. He also reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and also won a grass-court title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. For Ferrer, points come in bunches at tournaments of all sizes on all surfaces.
6. Tomas Berdych - Berdych should be able to pass Nadal in the rankings after the Australian Open and remain ahead of him until the end of 2013. He’s simply too good for that not to happen. The Czech has reached the final of Wimbledon, the semis of the French Open, the semis of the U.S. Open, and he is a two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist. Heck, Berdych even reached a 2012 final on some kind of blue surface that was made of stuff which forensic scientists have yet to decipher. The guy can churn out points anywhere and everywhere faster than a riverboat gambler at a slot machine. With confidence lingering from a Davis Cup triumph, Berdych head into 2013 with no red flags of any kind.
7. Rafael Nadal – A top three finish for Nadal is already out of the question, but he could finish anywhere from No. 4 to……outside the Top 100? There is no telling when the 11-time Grand Slam champion will return, but a relatively smart bet (no bets regarding Nadal are smart ones right now) would be Monte-Carlo in April. If the Spaniard plays a full clay-court swing, he should have enough time to snag a spot in the World Tour Finals. But it’s far from a sure thing given the current circumstances.
8. Janko Tipsarevic – Will anyone left out of the London picture in 2012 make a breakthrough in 2013. Don't count on it happening. A lot of that has to do with the rest of the ATP field, but some of it also has to do with Tipsarevic. The Serb was a late bloomer who is only getting better with age. He recorded a season-high 57 wins last season and several solid performances in the fall should have his confidence throttled in high gear. Two other things going for Tipsarevic: 1) he’s durable, and 2) he can get it done on all surfaces, thus able to rack up points on a consistent basis from start to finish.
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