Then last year, the tournament exceeded all expectations, the big four filling the semi-final slots and Murray/Nadal producing one of the most epic 3 set matches in recent history. It also saw Roger Federer playing the sort of breathtaking tennis that he's capable of but only sporadically produces and inflicting upon Djokovic his last defeat before his marathon winning run, ended 6 months later at Roland Garros by the Swiss himself.
So which way will this year go? The few months after the US Open are always strange, players missing tournaments and retirements/withdrawals aplenty. But after a run of tournaments that aren't prioritised by the top players, the O2 presents a crucial challenge to all 8 of the competitors this year.
Djokovic has unquestionably been the best player in the world this year, with a season virtually unmatched in history (that said, RF went 81-4 in '05 and 92-5 in '06, ND is currently 69-4). It is only fitting surely that he finishes the year off by sealing his second Tour Finals victory (won in '08). But he's been struggling with a shoulder injury and hasn't won anything since the US Open. He'd be a deserving winner but is that going to be enough?
Nadal has never won the Tour Finals and, given that he's one of the greatest players ever, he must claim it at some stage. His physical style batters his body and so he usually comes to the end of the season weary and not performing his best. In the final against Federer last year he was certainly affected by the length and intensity of the semi against Murray the day before. He's not played since Shanghai in early October so how he's playing or what kind of fitness he's got will be as hard to predict as the overall winner.
Murray will of course never win a Grand Slam, purely by virtue of the fact that he's British, so is this the biggest prize to target? He's never really threatened to win the whole thing, but knows he can beat any of the 7 and there's surely no better time to be in Djokovic's group. With the crowd behind him but less pressure than at Wimbledon, if he is fit, this may well be his year.
Federer has found some incredible form, claiming his first Paris Masters' title, and is unbeaten in 12 matches since the US Open. He's won this title 5 times and showed last year that he can produce even when he's been written off. How he'd love to show people yet again that he's as good as ever, and with the form behind him, you can't blame the bookies for making him favourite.
For Ferrer, Fish, Tsonga and Berdych, this title, especially against the other four competitors would undoubtably be the highlight of their careers thus far, but unless it's a 2009 repeat, I don't give them much chance.
Given that whatever I predict on this blog, it goes completing the opposite way, I won't jinx anyone. I just hope it's more like last year than the year before.