Next week sees the world’s top male players contesting the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2. To celebrate this end-of-season testosterone-fest, here are eight things sure to happen at one point during the week.
1) Andy Murray will give home fans a scare.
A major London tournament isn’t complete without British fans feeling the collective heat beneath their seats. So expect the British No.1 to struggle through the round-robin stage of this tournament, qualifying for the knockout stage by the skin of his unmissable teeth. He’s in Group B with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic – no easy combination. To really put the wind up home fans, his qualification may even hinge on some strange mathematical oddity in the third round-robin match.
2) A ball boy will get taken out by a Milos Raonic serve.
This Canadian monster has one of the best serves of all time. As the courts in the O2 Arena were being laid, he had already clocked up 1,093 aces during the 2014 season. (Only Ivo Karlovic had beaten that with 1,185 aces.)
Raonic’s service dominance is impressive. In 2014 he won 83 per cent of first-serve points, and won 90 per cent of his service games. His service speed record of 155.3mph (in 2012) is just shy of Ivo Karlovic’s world record. Ball boys watch out!
3) Rafa Nadal will bravely make an appearance at the final, as a spectator.
He will be wearing a tartan rug across his knees, soothing his sore appendix wound with an ice pack. (He had the offending item removed last week in Barcelona.)
In the streets outside the O2, merchandise sellers will be offering rubber souvenir appendices. Get them while you can.
4) Lots of celebrity fans.
Sean Connery and Alex Ferguson will almost give themselves coronaries cheering on Murray. Premier League footballers will drag themselves along to support their compatriots. A Chelsea contingency will include Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic, in thrall of their man Djokovic, as well as keeper Petr Cech, cheering on Berdych.
5) KABs, not WAGs.
Instead of focusing on the players’ WAGs (wives and girlfriends), the British tabloid newspapers will instead become obsessed with KABs (kids and babies). Fan will vote on which of the various ATP offspring are the cutest. Will it be Wawrinka’s four-year-old Alexia? What about one of Federer’s multiple twins? Could it be Bob Bryan’s Bobby Jr or Micaela? What about one of Zimonjic’s twins? Or one of Nestor’s duo?
Of course! The winner is obvious. It will be Djokovic’s little bubba Stefan. At the start of the tournament he will be less than three weeks old. How can a munchkin like that fail to win?
6) The Bryan brothers will play guitar.
Unable to persuade the owners of the O2 to allow them to perform in the adjoining indigo venue, the Bryan brothers will get their band (The Bryan Brothers band) back together and instead regale drinkers in a local North Greenwich pub. Said drinkers will look on bemused.
7) Infestation of moths.
Insects, it seems, can’t resist blue light… and the ATP World Tour Finals are bathed all week in lots and lots of blue light, courtesy of its main sponsor. Cue a swarm of hawk moths, and ball boys running around in a vain attempt to remove them humanely.
8) Late-night matches
Evening matches are sure to run late into the night. But London Underground union rules will disallow late Tube trains. Spectators will wrestle each other for the handful of taxis available.
Those who end up walking home will console themselves with the knowledge that from autumn 2015, London Underground will at last be running all-night Tubes across the capital.
Unibet are offering odds on each player winning his round-robin group.
Djokovic is favourite to win Group A at 1.25, followed by Berdych at 6.00, Cilic at 8.00 and Wawrinka at 10.00
Federer is favourite to win Group B at 1.90, followed by Murray at 3.00, Nishikori at 6.50 and Raonic at 7.00
Bet on the ATP World Tour Finals now