Murray has shot at home triumph

THAT first grand slam title might still be on the to-do list, but Andy Murray has a superb chance of landing his biggest prize yet – and in front of a home crowd – in London next week.

The Scot faces the toughest possible opposition, with only the eight best-performing players of 2011 qualifying for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, which gets underway at the O2 on Sunday.

But he comes into the tournament in sensational form, while some of his most formidable rivals for the prestigious title, second only to the grand slams, have a litany of causes for concern.

A serious spring-time wobble aside, Murray has enjoyed a very strong year, reaching at least the semi-finals of all four Majors, climbing back into the world’s top three ranked players and winning five titles.

Three of those wins – in Bangkok, Tokyo and then Shanghai – have come in the last two months, and even more impressively, in succession. Murray looked on his way to a fourth in a row until he lost to eventual finalist Tomas Berdych at last week’s Paris Masters, after being hampered by a minor leg injury.

His biggest test in the group stage next week is likely to come from Novak Djokovic, the world No1 who has utterly dominated 2011, winning three grand slams and losing just four matches. However, those achievements have taken their toll on the Serb’s body and he has played just seven matches since winning the US Open in early September.

In the other group, world No2 Rafael Nadal has not won a tournament since his firm favourite, the French Open, in June, and lost to Murray in the Tokyo final last month.

Roger Federer, the all-time great who has slipped to fourth in the rankings, is in form, having won his last two competitions, but is not the force of old, and is 6-8 down against the Briton on head-to-head records.

ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS
GROUP A
ANDY MURRAY
Nationality: GB
World ranking: 3
Titles this year: 5

DAVID FERRER
Nat: Spanish
World ranking: 5
Titles this year: 2

TOMAS BERDYCH
Nat: Czech 
World ranking: 7
Titles this year: 1

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Nat: Serbian 
World ranking: 1
Titles this year: 10

GROUP B
MARDY FISH
Nat: USA 
World ranking: 8
Titles this year: 1

RAFAEL NADAL
Nat: Spanish 
World ranking: 2
Titles this year:

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA
Nat: French 
World ranking: 6
Titles this year: 2

ROGER FEDERER
Nat: Swiss 
World ranking: 4
Titles this year: 3

HOW TOURNAMENT WORKS
GROUP STAGE
Eight players are split into two groups, in which they all play each other once. The top two players from each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the final being held on Sunday week.

SCHEDULE
Sunday 20 November
2pm Roger Federer v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
8pm Rafael Nadal v Mardy Fish

Monday 21 November
2pm Andy Murray v David Ferrer
8pm Novak Djokovic v Tomas Berdych

Tuesday schedule to be confirmed on Sunday, and further days thereafter.