As the tennis season reaches the end of another gruelling season, we look ahead to the final tournament of the year, the Nitto ATP Finals.
The event consists of the top eight male players, as they battle it out for the blue-ribband event of the ATP Tour.
It just shows how much things have changed in the last 12 months as last year’s winner, Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria did not qualify for this year’s tournament, as the 27-year-old is currently the World No.19.
The finals will get underway on Sunday, as Austria’s Dominic Thiem will face South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, in the first singles match. The winner of the tournament could receive 1500 ranking points, if they are unbeaten throughout the tournament
It will be the tenth edition of the season-ending tournament, formerly known as the ATP World Tour Finals, at the famous O2 Arena in London. Previous winners at the O2 include the current World No.1 Novak Djokovic, World No.3 and record male grand slam winner, Roger Federer. Great Britain’s Andy Murray lifted the Brad Drewett trophy in 2016, and Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko won the first event to be held in London back in 2008.
There have been five winners at the O2, but either Djokovic or Federer have lifted the trophy in six of the nine tournaments. In fact, in the last 15 editions of the ATP Finals, the Swiss and the Serb have shared 11 trophies between them.
Djokovic and Federer both qualified for the ATP Finals this year and are expected to meet in the final. The 31-year-old has had a fantastic end to the season as he has lost only two matches since losing the final of Queen’s.
This run includes winning Wimbledon and the US Open, two Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, the former where he achieved the Golden Masters, becoming the first player to win all nine Masters 1000 tournaments at least once in their career.
On current form, the 14-time Grand Slam winner reached the final of the Rolex Paris Masters last week, which included beating Federer and Croatia’s Marin Cilic in three sets. Djokovic was eventually beaten in straight sets to Russian 22-year-old, Karen Khachanov, as he lifted the biggest title of his young career.
During that week, Djokovic became the World No.1, as Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament, with an ankle injury. The Spaniard chose to have surgery, and therefore will not play in London next week.
Djokovic was drawn in the Guga Kuerten Group alongside, Cilic, Germany’s Alexander Zverev, and World No.10 John Isner.
In the other group, the Lleyton Hewitt Group, Federer will play Anderson, Thiem, and Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
The 37-year-old had a great start to the season as he won the first slam of the year, the Australian Open, and picked up his 20thgrand slam title. He won the Rotterdam Open in February, and then became the oldest ever World No.1 at the tender age of 36 years and 195 days.
However, he failed to win a Masters 1000 title this year, despite making finals in Cincinnati and Shanghai towards the back end of the season. He suffered a quarter final defeat to Anderson at Wimbledon and a fourth-round exit to Australia’s John Millman at Flushing Meadows. He then lost his No.1 crown to Nadal when he couldn’t defend his title in Halle, an ATP 500 event leading up to the All England Championships.
It will be interesting to find out who will be crowned as the Nitto ATP Finals champion 2018, as this season draws to a close. How much energy have the players got left in the tank? We will have to find out when the tournament gets under way on Sunday.