Bettors and former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe are banking on Roger Federer to win a record-tying fifth title at the season-ending ATP World Tour tennis finals.
“I would give Roger more of a chance in a shorter match,” McEnroe, a seven-time major champion and television commentator, told the ATP Champions Tour website. “I would pick Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open, because he’s much tougher to beat in longer matches, if he remains healthy,” the American said.
Matches at the ATP Finals, which start Nov. 21 at London’s O2 arena, are played in a best-of-three-set format. Men’s matches at the sport’s four Grand Slams are played over five sets. Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko won the title last year.
Mats Wilander, a seven-time major champion, agreed that world No. 2 Federer deserves favoritism at the eight-man event.
“Federer is on to something, he is playing better now than he has done in the last three or four years,” the Swede told the website. “It’s not like he had a horrible year.”
Federer won the Australian Open, got to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open this season.
The Swiss last won the ATP finals in 2007. He’s the 5-2 favorite at William Hill Plc to join Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras as the only men to have won the year-end championships five times. That means a successful $2 bet would return $5 plus the original wager.
Former French Open champion Yannick Noah picked top-ranked Nadal to win his first ATP Finals title.
“When this kid is healthy, he is unbeatable because mentally he is so strong,” the Frenchman said.
Nadal, this year’s French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, follows Federer at 10-3 at William Hill. U.S. Open runner-up Novak Djokovic of Serbia is next at 4-1.
Nadal will start his campaign Nov. 22 against Andy Roddick of the U.S. The Spanish left-hander, who completed the career Grand Slam of all four tennis majors when he won the U.S. Open in September, is the top seed in Group A. Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych plays Djokovic in the other match in the group.
Federer was made the top seed in Group B. The record 16-time major champion starts against Spain’s David Ferrer on the first day. Britain’s Andy Murray, 5-1 at William Hill, will open the event Nov. 21 against French Open finalist Robin Soderling, a 9-1 chance.
The tournament will be played in a round-robin format, with the eight players divided into two groups. Each will face the three others in the group, with the top two in each section moving into the knockout semifinals.
Ferrer and Berdych are 28-1 longshots, with Roddick 20-1.