Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At The Nitto ATP Finals
The Nitto ATP Finals is set to begin, with the eight best singles players and doubles teams in the world competing at The O2 in London for the final time before the event moves to Turin, Italy next year.
Five-time champion Novak Djokovic leads Group Tokyo 1970 and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal tops Group London 2020 for the event’s 50th Anniversary edition. ATPTour.com looks at 10 things to watch during the season finale.
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1) Year-End No. 1 Djokovic Chasing Another Record: Djokovic will be honoured on Sunday for his record-tying sixth year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings, tying Pete Sampras’ mark. The Serbian will then turn his attention to reaching another record: Roger Federer’s six Nitto ATP Finals trophies. Djokovic has triumphed at the season finale five times, lifting the trophy in 2008 in Shanghai and from 2012-15 in London. The top seed owns a 36-14 at the tournament.
2) Nadal’s Title Pursuit: Will Nadal break through and capture his first Nitto ATP Finals title? The Spaniard has qualified for the event a record 16 times, and he reached the championship match in 2010 and 2013. The 34-year-old is bidding to become the oldest champion in tournament history. The lefty is on a 69-match winning streak when he takes the first set, dating back to Acapulco in 2019.
3) Another Run For Thiem? Last year at The O2, Dominic Thiem defeated Federer and Novak Djokovic in group play en route to reaching the championship match at the season finale. This year, he won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. Will this be the year the 27-year-old emerges victorious at the Nitto ATP Finals? Thiem is making an Austrian record fifth singles appearance (2016-20) and his streak of five consecutive appearances in the event is the longest active streak.
4) Medvedev’s Magic: Daniil Medvedev made his Nitto ATP Finals debut last year at The O2, going 0-3 in group play. This year, however, the 24-year-old arrives in London with much more momentum. He claimed his third Masters 1000 title last week at the Rolex Paris Masters. Three players who have made winless debuts at the season finale have gone on to capture the title: Djokovic, Michael Stich and Stefan Edberg. Medvedev is the first Russian to compete in this event in consecutive seasons since Davydenko, who played it five straight years from 2005-09.
5) Zverev Former Champ: Alexander Zverev is one of three former tournament champions in the field. In 2018, he won the biggest title of his career at The O2. The third German Nitto ATP Finals champion is the only player to earn wins against Djokovic, Federer and Nadal at the season finale. He is only the third player to beat the ‘Big Three’ at a single tournament (Nalbandian in Madrid, Murray in Toronto). Zverev recently won back-to-back titles in Cologne and reached the Paris final. He also made his first major championship match at the US Open.
6) Tsitsipas Soaring: One year ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Next Gen ATP Finals titlist to lift the Nitto ATP Finals trophy. He was also the tournament’s youngest champion since 20-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in 2001. The Greek star will now try to become the first player to defend this title since Djokovic four-peated from 2012-15. Tsitsipas reached his second Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros, where he pushed Djokovic to five sets.
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7) Schwartzman Shining: The last player to qualify for this year’s season finale was Diego Schwartzman, who accomplished the feat during the Rolex Paris Masters. The Argentine, who is making his tournament debut, is the first South American to compete in the event since Juan Martin del Potro in 2013. According to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats, Schwartzman ranks second on the ATP Tour in return games won this year (36.38%). He only trails the top player in that category, Rafael Nadal, by one-hundredth of a percentage point (36.39%).
8) Red-Hot Rublev: Perhaps nobody in London will be as confident as Andrey Rublev, who leads the ATP Tour in titles (5) and wins (40). Rublev and Medvedev are the second Russian duo to compete in the tournament in the same year, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin (2000). Rublev, who played in the Next Gen ATP Finals twice, can become the third consecutive #NextGenATP alum (Zverev, Tsitsipas) to win the Nitto ATP Finals.
9) First-Time Doubles Team Champion: There will be a first-time doubles champion at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals. However, two players in the field have previously triumphed at The O2: John Peers (who is playing with Michael Venus) and Marcel Granollers (who is competing with Horacio Zeballos). The top seeds are Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares, who claimed their first Grand Slam title as a team at the US Open.
10) Farewell, London: This is the 12th and final edition of the Nitto ATP Finals being held at The O2. The only other city that has had the event for a longer period was New York City, which hosted the tournament at Madison Square Garden from 1977-89. There have been seven different singles winners in London, three of whom (Djokovic, Zverev and Tsitsipas) are in this year’s field. Next Year, the tournament moves to Turin.
– Research contributed by Joshua Rey.
Source: Tennis – ATP World Tour