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Topic: Crystal Palace and Aston Villa loom, such is Newcastles predicament, t

British fans love an underdog and, in Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem, they will have two to get behind at the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 next week. Should either of them manage to overcome the likes of new world No 1 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to win the title, it would go down as one of the most famous victories in the history of the event.Djokovic has won the past four editions; Roger Federer twice before him. You have to look back to 2009, when Nikolay Davydenko stunned Federer in the semi-final and defeated then US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the final for an upset of comparable magnitude. Before that, in 2005, David Nalbandian became the first man not to have won a Grand Slam or Masters title to lift the trophy.Inspiration is few and far between then, although Monfils and Thiem can look to Dominika Cibulkovas surprise debut victory at the WTA Finals in Singapore last month. Her win over world No 1 Angelique Kerber in the final was a fairytale, but do Monfils and Thiem have what it takes to emulate her? Dominic Thiem is an up-and-coming talent They are paired with Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic in the Ivan Lendl group at the O2, so the Frenchman and Austrian are up against it from the off.But with Djokovic faltering of late and Raonic withdrawing from last weeks Paris Masters semi-final against Murray with a leg injury, all hope is not lost. World Tour: Panel predictions See how our Sky Sports pundits think the ATP World Tour Finals will go and cast your vote At 30 years old, Monfils has plenty of experience and goes into the Tour Finals having won the Citi Open in July and recorded career-best results at both the US Open (semi-final) and Australian Open (quarter-final) this year. He also has a winning record of 3-2 over Raonic.His run in New York, in particular, should give him heart. The Frenchman did not drop a single set on his way to the last four, beating former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis and flourishing against compatriot Lucas Pouille in the quarter-final. A look at why Monfils is tennis showman However, there was the small matter of Monfils bizarre semi-final against Djokovic. The Frenchman tried every trick in the book against the Serb, with varying and sometimes hilarious results.He play-acted and fired balls almost into the crowd, but also hit some of the most spectacular winners Flushing Meadows had seen this year. He occasionally looked as if he might give up and received serve two feet inside the baseline, but then burst into life, sometimes crushing a return past the open-mouthed Djokovic.He double-faulted at 137mph, on second serve. He served 11 aces and 11 double faults. When he shook hands, having taken a set off the eventual runner-up, he was completely spent. Watch Thiems superb backhand Meanwhile, Thiem, at 23 years old, has four titles of his own this year across all three surfaces, in Buenos Aires, Nice, Acapulco and Stuttgart. He also reached the French Open semi-final.Thiems showings in Paris belied his years. The Austrian battled through four four-set matches, knocking out 12th-seed David Goffin in the quarters.But, like Monfils, his progress was stopped by Djokovic. Yet, unlike Monfils, Thiem was steamrollered by the Serb in straight sets, the Austrian picking up just seven games in the process. Monfils is capable of both the sublime and ridiculous When it comes to London, neither player will suffer the weight of expectation when they step on court, but they will find a different atmosphere to what they are used to.While Thiem will certainly not wilt under the bright lights, it is the Frenchman who is more likely to embrace the electric energy from the crowd and use it to aid his flamboyant style. Watch NOW TV Watch Sky Sports for just £6.99. No contract. If the fairytale follows Cibulkovas, and Monfils loses to Djokovic in the group and then meets the Serb in the final, hopefully he has taken note of Davydenkos triumph and will beat him when it really matters, at the 15th time of asking.Watch every day of the ATP World Tour Finals, from November 13-20, live on Sky Sports. Full schedule here. Also See: World Tour Finals on Sky Sports Stan the danger man World Tour Finals: The Groups Tour Finals at the O2 Cheap Steelers Jerseys . Tuesdays surgery at Atlantas Piedmont Hospital was performed by Dr. Xavier Duralde and Hawks team physician Dr. Michael Bernot. Authentic Joshua Frazier Jersey . Inter president Erick Thohir says in a club statement on Wednesday that Vidic is "one of the worlds best defenders and his qualities, international pedigree, and charisma will be an asset. http://www.cheapsteelersjerseysauthentic.com/ . "Four now," Carl Gunnarsson told the Leaf Report proudly following a 5-2 victory over New York on Tuesday night, the clubs fifth straight at home. Authentic Marcus Allen Jersey . Kiriasis and brakeman Franziska Fritz finished two runs in one minute 55.41 seconds -- a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Meyers and Lolo Jones, who likely bolstered her Olympic hopes by helping give USA-1 a huge push in the second heat. Authentic Mason Rudolph Jersey . The showiest items on Calgarys lot were forwards Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak. Both will be unrestricted free agents this summer.Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield on Saturday, but can he ensure Newcastle United will be back to face Liverpool next season too? Adam Bate looks at the challenge he faces... Liverpool midfielder James Milner revealed that the spirit of Istanbul had been invoked by manager Jurgen Klopp during half-time of the clubs Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund last week. So perhaps its appropriate that the architect of that famous night in Liverpools history should return to Anfield with Newcastle United this weekend.Reds supporters will surely welcome the opportunity to fete one of their favourites in Rafa Benitez, and the feeling is likely to be mutual. I think Rafa will want to show great respect for Liverpool and the fans, former captain Phil Thompson told Sky Sports. Benitez was pleased with how his side came from a goal down against Man City I hope Newcastle fans understand that and not take it personally as I remember when Gerard Houllier came back and had Aston Villa fans screaming at him because he waved at the Liverpool fans. Rafa is a very professional man and hell want to do the best for Newcastle and keep them up, but Liverpool are naturally still very close to his heart. Benitez calls for Anfield win Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has told his players to believe they can beat his great former side Benitezs place in Liverpool history is indeed secure. Aside from the Champions League triumph of 2005, he simply got it. Cast as a cold figure - Im not sure hes interested in players as people, Steven Gerrard famously suggested - he nevertheless appreciated the importance of the relationship between manager and fans in a way that others have not. Steven Gerrard and Benitez of Spain with the European Cup in Istanbul in 2005 In 2010, Benitez donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group in the immediate aftermath of his Liverpool exit. The following year, he returned to attend the memorial and in 2013 left a single rose in memory of justice campaigner Anne Williams. They are gestures that will not be forgotten. Nor will his achievements on the pitch.Newcastle fans are a similarly passionate bunch and Benitez will doubtlessly be hoping to forge a similar bond on Tyneside. However, such is the hand that has been dealt him, its tempting to think that keeping this Newcastle team up will require a turnaround almost as unlikely as what happened that night in Turkey 11 years ago. There arent enough good players and thats why they are in this situation. Jamie Carragher I dont think its just an attitude problem, said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher last month when discussing their plight. I think theres a lack of quality. There arent enough good players and thats why they are in this situation. Its a daunting prospect and the initial signs were not good.Although the Spaniard was able to end a six-game losing streak in the derby against Sunderland, the other three of his first four games as manager were all lost. But there has now been an upturn in fortunes, and the Benitez effect will feel familiar to those at Anfield. Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastles remaining games in the Premier League Firstly, there was the surprisingly convincing 3-0 win over Swansea.dddddddddddd. The gaffer gave the game plan and we implemented that, said midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. Then came a 1-1 draw against Manchester City, ending a miserable sequence of 12 consecutive defeats in the fixture. One goal conceded in two games - and even that effort was clearly offside.Its not a surprise to see Benitez has sorted their defence out, said Thompson. Newcastle arent quite the compact unit just yet but while the current team might not have inspired too much confidence on paper, in practice, they are at least listening. And with Benitez, theres reason to believe thats both a prerequisite for - and a prelude to - improvement. Its not a surprise to see Benitez has sorted their defence out. Phil Thompson Consider the comments. As a young player, it is absolutely fantastic to work with Rafa Benitez, said Chancel Mbemba. His centre-back partner Jamaal Lascelles is learning too. The gaffer has got us doing some excellent training sessions, he explained. He does a lot of tactical stuff which is brilliant. Shelvey has admitted that its like going back to school.At the school of Benitez, hard work is non-negotiable - particularly when hes not in a position to bolster the squad, having only arrived in March. Upping the work rate has been key and Moussa Sissoko embodies the change. Handed the captaincy, he made 72 sprints and covered 11.8 kilometres in the win over Swansea - his best efforts of the season so far. Moussa Sissoko has noticeably improved his work rate since Benitez took over The work rate has improved, said Niall Quinn on co-commentary for Sky Sports on Tuesday night. Everything now looks better. As Carragher alluded to in his remarks last month, whether thats enough to retain Newcastles Premier League status remains to be seen. But it seems that Benitez is part of the solution not the problem.Of course, that shouldnt come as too much of a surprise. Indeed, it has always felt a curious criticism of Benitezs credentials that he lacks the experience of a relegation battle possessed by Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce - as though 15 years of coaching winning teams does not qualify him for the task of trying to win football matches. Newcastles Vurnon Anita says Benitez has organised the team since his arrival He may have won European trophies at both Valencia and Liverpool, but some of Benitezs best nights as a manager in both Spain and England have come with his team in the role of underdog. His enemy is time not tactics. So while games against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa loom, such is Newcastles predicament, they may need something at Anfield too.History is not on his side. Everyone remembers that 4-3 game between the sides 20 years ago this week. Whats less well known is that Newcastle havent won there since. But with Benitez having already ended similar streaks against Sunderland and Manchester City, whats one more upset between friends? That spirit of Istanbul may be needed yet again. Also See: Benitez: We have found belief Anita: Benitez very clear China NFL Hoodies Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Cheap Jerseys Online Black China NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys From China Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '