It won’t be the occasion envisaged as London bids farewell to the ATP Finals however regardless of the strangest of circumstances the season-ender ought to present an upbeat word on which to end a tough 12 months for tennis. The ATP’s blue-riband occasion has proved an enormous success because it switched to London’s cavernous O2 Arena in 2009, drawing promote-out crowds to watch the world’s prime eight singles gamers and doubles pairs go head-to-head.
Last 12 months almost 250,000 followers flocked to the Thames-side dome over the eight days of the match gained by Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. This time, with London in COVID-19 lockdown, the 20,000-seater enviornment can be eerily empty, barring the gamers, their coaches, match officers and a smattering of media.
Players should stay in a strict ‘bubble’ and even line judges can be lacking, changed by the Hawk-eye stay system used lately on the U.S. Open. In these straitened instances prize cash has additionally been slashed from final 12 months’s whole pot of $9 million to $5.7 million with an undefeated champion to pocket $1.56 million in contrast to the $2.6 million Tsitsipas earned regardless of dropping one spherical-robin match.
Not that money would be the motivator for world primary Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and debutants Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman when the match’s fiftieth version begins on Sunday.
Serbian Djokovic, 33, is assured to finish the 12 months as primary for a sixth time, equalling Pete Sampras’s file.
But the final of his 5 titles on the 12 months-ender got here in 2015 and, after his latest default within the U.S. Open and thrashing by Nadal within the French Open ultimate he can be keen to put the 12 months to mattress with a strong assertion.
Djokovic, denied the possibility to defend his Wimbledon title this 12 months when it was cancelled for the primary time since World War II, can match the absent Roger Federer’s six ATP Finals titles. Nadal, extremely, nonetheless awaits his first.
The Spanish 20-instances Grand Slam champion has a comparatively mediocre file within the occasion, his greatest runs being two runner-up finishes in London in 2010 and 2013.
His final two appearances resulted in spherical-robin stage exits.
“Of course I wanted to win the tournament, but it’s always difficult,” Nadal, who has by no means had the advantage of contesting it on his favoured clay, mentioned.
After the domination of Federer and Djokovic, who gained 11 of the 13 editions between 2003 and 2015, the final three years in London has seen first-time winners in Grigor Dimitrov, Zverev and Tsitsipas and that sequence may proceed.
Austrian world quantity three Thiem, the U.S. Open champion, was runner-up in 2019 and would love to cement his breakthrough 12 months by successful essentially the most prestigious title outdoors of the 4 Grand Slams.
Medvedev, who can be joined this 12 months by fellow Russian Rublev, additionally appears to be like an excellent wager after warming up in fashion by successful final week’s Paris Masters, though on his debut final 12 months he misplaced all three of his spherical-robin matches.
“Hopefully I can get some wins. I have no other goal than just to get some wins,” Medvedev, who misplaced to Nadal on the O2 final 12 months regardless of main 5-1 within the deciding set, mentioned.
Rublev could possibly be harmful too, having gained 5 titles this 12 months, greater than another participant. While Schwartzman lately cracked the highest 10 for the primary time on the age of 28.