Federer and Murray will clean up in 2012
Right from the outset I was pretty sure that Roger Federer would win the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2.
Andy Murray seemed like the only player who could stand in his way, but clearly nobody had a clue how bad Andy's injury was apart from the player himself. He must simply have been hoping that somehow he'd be alright to play, but it didn't work out that way.
And with Murray not fit, that was it: the way was clear for Federer.
Rafael Nadal has simply not played at his true level all year, even in winning the French Open. At Roland Garros he was far from at his best, but somehow he found a way to win despite that -- yet before that, and since, he's struggled with his timing and not looked the same player he was last year. In London he looked ill - was ill, in fact - and it caps a tough season.
As for Novak Djokovic? Well, it's been fascinating watching him over the last month or so. I have a theory that I'm happy to repeat to anybody who'll listen that Djokovic could well have peaked, and the rest of his career will be downhill from here.
I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but at the moment I see signs that the old Djokovic is returning. His motivation simply doesn't seem to have been there in the last few weeks, and while I realise the shoulder problem doesn't help it just looks to me like he could be slipping backwards. Unless he has a stunning start to the season, I can't help but think 2012 will be one long anti-climax.
His job is to prove me wrong, but I'm suspicious that his best days have been and gone.
If that proves to be the case, Federer and Murray must surely mop up 2012 between the two of them.
Murray has to make this his time. He will simply never have a better chance to win Grand Slams, and the only person standing in his way is Roger Federer.
Federer, for his part, never really went away. He was overtaken by Nadal when the Spaniard enjoyed his moment in the sun, and Djokovic has blown everyone away in his amazing 2011.
Throughout all that Federer's level has remained pretty much the same over the last few years, though he did have a poor 2010. His tennis has been superb this year, and when you analyse it he was really only a few points away from picking up a Grand Slam or two this season.
Okay, so he's not what he was in 2006 or 2007, but the fact remains that as the year turns he is the best tennis player in the world. There's a distinct possibility - a probability, actually - that he'll win one or two Grand Slams next season, and if he does he'll likely become world number one again. Frankly, I'm amazed to be saying that, but there's no doubt that he enters 2012 as the clear favourite.
Whether Murray can step up as well remains to be seen, though he'll never have a better opportunity. What he doesn't need, though, is to face Federer in a Grand Slam final - particularly in Australia, where another defeat in the last match of the tournament could set him back once again.
Should Murray face up against anyone else in the world in a Grand Slam final next year, I'm convinced he'd win. Against Federer, I'd have serious worries that he will fall short once again.