Nitto ATP Finals preview
The Nitto ATP Finals are set to run from 12-19 November at the O2 Arena in London. After the four Grand Slam events across the season, this tournament is seen as the perfect way to round off the campaign and is regarded as the second highest elite level competition following those four major prizes.
Six of the eight spots in the men’s singles have already been guaranteed, with just two more sports to be filled prior to the action getting underway. However, Scottish star Andy Murray will not be at the O2 after taking the rest of the year off in order to recover fully from a consistent knee complaint.
The most recent additions to the roster for this year’s event are Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic. The pair join six-time champion Roger Federer, as well as current world number one Rafael Nadal, debutant Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem.
Judging by the names already in the hat, this should be a fitting finale to what has been a thrilling season. Meanwhile, Dimitrov is set to make history as the first Bulgarian to qualify for the tournament.
Dimitrov comes into this competition on the back of a triumphant 2017, the pinnacle of which came back in August when he won the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, at the Western and Southern Open, in Cincinnati. In addition, he put together an impressive 16-1 match record on his way to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, before he eventually fell to Rafa Nadal.
Cilic, for his part, has also earned his place in the English capital following a successful season on the court. He won a title in Istanbul back in April and also reached two finals in London – he clearly feels at home in the city, but ended up losing to Federer at Wimbledon and also did not manage to win the title at the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club.
For Federer, meanwhile, 2017 has really been one to remember. It is hard to believe that he spent six months away from competitive action after knee surgery, and he has returned looking arguably stronger than he has ever done before.
The Swiss star is now 36 but is showing few indications that he is ready to hang up his racket. He has even enjoyed the best of his prolonged and enthralling duel with Nadal, and they could have one more chance to go head to head at the O2.
Federer qualified for his 15th edition of the Nitto ATP Finals some months ago. We are still a while away from this competition starting, but given the year he has enjoyed, Federer must surely go in as the favourite to take the title.
Dominic Thiem is another who finds himself at the competition after a positive season. He has now qualified for this tournament twice and, at just 24 years of age, he has become the first Austrian since former world number one Thomas Muster to appear more than once at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Thiem meanwhile will be looking to make up for his disappointing display last year, where he managed a paltry 1-2 record in the round robin group phase of the competition. In 2017, his highlight was winning the Rio Open in Brazil, after competing in 24 tournaments across the season and collecting a 46-23 match record.
German athlete Alexander Zverev has, at 20, become the youngest player to qualify for the tournament since Spaniard Javier Del Potro almost a decade ago in 2008. Zverez has won two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns this season and only giants of the sport Federer and Nadal qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals ahead of him.
Zverez is the first German to qualify for this event since Rainer Schuettler in 2003, and it was reaching the semi-finals of the China Open which helped him get there. In addition, he has an impressive five ATP World Tour trophies under his belt this calendar year – the same number as those top two, Federer and Nadal.
Spaniard Nadal was the first player to qualify for this year’s edition of the Nitto ATP Finals. He has now made it to this competition 13 times in a row, having qualified for every edition since 2005.
It was his record breaking 10th Roland Garros title which got him over the line, and now he is looking to end the season with a bang rather than a whimper. However, he has never won the curtain closer in London.
Nadal’s finest showings came in 2010 and 2013, when he lost in the final to old rival Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, respectively. In 2017, Nadal already has four titles to his name and a fantastic 43-6 match record across the board, and is now looking for that fifth and final crown of the season.