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ATP Finals: A look at the finalists


ATP Finals, the season finale of men’s tennis, begins from Sunday in Turin with the summit clash set to take place on November 21. 

While Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are missing from the field due to injuries, there is still plenty at stake for the top eight who have qualified.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic could equal Federer’s all-time record of six ATP Finals titles but for that, he will have to edge past emerging rivals such as Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The list also includes underdogs, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz, who have the ability to pull off an upset or two which makes the competition more exciting.

Here’s a look at the eight finalists for the last battle of the year.

Novak Djokovic

To say that Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has had a terrific season so far would be an understatement. At the start of the year, Djokovic had 17 Majors titles to his name. But as the season went on, he not only equalled Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tally of 20 Majors – the most in men’s tennis – but also came within one match of crossing it and achieving a rare Calendar Slam. Djokovic will end 2021 as the World No.1 for the record seventh time.

READ: Djokovic to kick off ATP Finals campaign against Ruud

He also won the Paris Masters last week to break Nadal’s all-time record of 36 ATP 1000 Masters titles. The 34-year-old had a 48-6 win-loss record this year. He is the pre-tournament favourite and if he indeed wins this time in Turin, Djokovic can emulate Federer’s all-time record of six ATP Finals titles.

Novak Djokovic

FILE PHOTO: Novak Djokovic (pic) can emulate Roger Federer’s six ATP Finals titles if he prevails in the Pala Alpitour over the next week.   –  Getty Images

 

Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev, the six-foot-six-inch tall Russian, is the defending champion and possibly the fiercest rival for Djokovic. The world No.2 began the year by reaching the Australian Open final but suffered a straight-sets loss to the Serbian. The 25-year-old then went on to win the ATP 250 titles in Marseille and Mallorca before clinching the ATP 1000 Masters title in Toronto just after the Tokyo Olympics. However, the biggest of them all came at Flushing Meadows where he stopped Djokovic from achieving the Calendar Slam by beating him in straight sets in the final. Djokovic did beat him at the Paris Masters final to make the season’s head-to-head 2-1 in his favour. Medvedev had an overall win-loss record of 54-12 in 2021.

READ: Recovery on track after arm injury, says Tsitsipas

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev, also known as ‘Sascha’, is coming into the ATP Finals after the season of his life. The 24-year-old German made deep runs at all the four Majors, which included tough five-set losses to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokovic at the French Open and US Open semifinals respectively. The world No.3 won ATP 500 titles in Acapulco and Vienna, Masters titles in Madrid and Cincinnati. He also became the first man from his country to win Olympic singles gold when he first stopped Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam by beating him in three sets in the semifinals and then beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov in straight sets in the final in Tokyo. Zverev had a win-loss record of 55-14 this year. However, off the court, Zverev was embroiled in a controversy as ATP finally opened an investigation into his former girlfriend’s accusations of domestic abuse.

Stefanos Tsitsipas in action.   –  AP

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a fantastic season despite the fact that the six-foot-four-inch tall Greek could only win two titles, Masters in Monte Carlo and ATP 250 title in Lyon, this year. Tsitsipas lost in the finals at Acapulco (to Zverev), Barcelona (to Nadal). However, the most crushing of them was the French Open final where the 23-year-old won the first two sets but Djokovic then pulled off one of the greatest comebacks of all time to snatch the title away from him. Tsitsipas was much criticised for his ‘toilet breaks’ during the US Open first-round match against former world number one Andy Murray. He had a win-loss record of 55-18 in 2021. He won the ATP Finals in 2019 but this time, he is coming into the tournament after retiring from his Round of 32 match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin at the Paris Masters due to an arm injury.

READ: Medvedev says double triumph late last year laid platform for rise

Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev started off his 2021 season with a quarterfinal loss to Medvedev at the Australian Open before winning the ATP 500 title in Rotterdam. The 24-year-old Russian played well to make it at least to the quarterfinals of seven of the next ten tournaments before being knocked out by local favourite Kei Nishikori in the Round of 64 of the men’s singles at Tokyo Olympics.

Putting that disappointment behind, world No.5 Rublev teamed up with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the mixed doubles gold medal. Post the Summer Games, he did reach the final of the Cincinnati Masters (lost to Zverev) but comes into the ATP Finals with an overall win-loss record of 48-20 due to a relatively weak second half of the season.

Matteo Berrettini

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini with his big serve and powerful strokes has had quite an impressive season where he clinched the ATP 250 title in Belgrade, ATP 500 title in London. The six-foot-five-inch Italian reached the pre-quarterfinals at the Australian Open where Tsitsipas got the better of the world No.6. Berrettini, 25, also reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and US Open, and the final at Wimbledon, eventually losing to Djokovic on all three occasions. Berrettini had a win-loss record of 41-11 in 2021.

Norway’s Casper Ruud.   –  AP

 

Casper Ruud

Casper Ruud, 22, is the first Norwegian to qualify for the season-ending ATP finals. While the world number eight didn’t have a long run at any of the four Majors, his consistency on the ATP Tour ultimately benefitted him. Ruud won the ATP 250 titles in Geneva, Bastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel and San Diego. He also reached at least the quarterfinals of five of the six ATP 1000 Masters he played in. Rudd had a win-loss record of 53-15 in 2021.

Hubert Hurkacz

Hubert Hurkacz, 24, is the first Polish man to reach the ATP Finals since 1976, but that is probably not even the highlight of the year for the world No,9. Hurkacz etched his name in history when he became the first man to inflict a bagel upon the 20-time Major win Roger Federer at Wimbledon during his 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 quarterfinal win.

He clinched the ATP Masters title in Miami and the ATP 250 ones in Delray Beach and Metz. However, Hurkacz had to fight till the very end for the final ATP Finals spot as he faced stiff competition from Jannik Sinner, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Cameron Norrie but a semifinal finish at Paris Masters sealed the deal for the six-foot-five-inch tall player. Hurkacz had a win-loss record of 36-20 in 2021.

Groups for the ATP Finals (Top two from each group make it to the semifinals)

Green Group – Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Rublev, Ruud

Red Group – Medvedev, Zverev, Berrettini, Hurkacz

Where to watch?

The ATP Finals will be live-streamed on Voot Select from 6:30 p.m. onwards on November 14.

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