Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

ATP Finals Preview: The Eight Contenders

Posted on 9 November 2019 by Danny Clark
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The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals begin in London tomorrow, with the top eight men in tennis set to battle it out for the prestigious, season-ending title.

Staged in the dramatically darkened 02 Arena, the eight-player field will compete for prize money totalling $8 million, with more than $2.7 million awaiting an undefeated champion.

The week-long showcase will begin with the players split into a pair of two four-man groups. After facing each group member in a round-robin format, the top two players from each group will then advance to the semi-final knock-out stage.

The winners of the respective semi-finals will meet in the final on November 17.

Group Andre Agassi

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Rafael Nadal [1] (Spain)

2019 record: 51-6; Career record vs. group: 11-1

World number one Nadal has enjoyed another excellent year on the tour, securing grand slam titles at both Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows. Impressive levels of consistency throughout the season also saw him reach the final of the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Prediction: Fans and spectators will be crossing their fingers and hoping that his recent withdrawal from the Paris Masters with injury was nothing more than a precaution. I think Nadal will struggle to progress deep into the tournament after a long season.

Daniil Medvedev [4] (Russia)

2019 record: 59-18; Career record vs. group: 6-6

The form player in the men’s game over the past five months, Medvedev has enjoyed a sensational season. Despite an early exit in Paris a couple of weeks ago, the Russian has won 29 out of his last 32 matches.

Prediction: The 23-year-old US Open finalist will be determined to make a mark in his maiden appearance at the season-ending event. I think he’ll progress to the semi-finals.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas [6] (Greece)

2019 record: 50-24; Career record vs. group: 4-10

Another player making his maiden appearance at the ATP Finals is 21-year-old Tsitsipas. Holding a 50-24 record, as well as victories over Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, this year has seen the Greek establish himself as a top-level player.

Prediction: After reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open earlier in the year, struggles with consistency have since prevented him from breaking the domination of the top three. Despite this, I think Tsitsipas will mount a strong challenge for the title.

Alexander Zverev [7] (Germany)

2019 record: 42-23; Career record vs. group: 5-9

For the third successive year, the German will be part of the eight-man field in London. After his sensational victory in last year’s Finals, the 22-year-old will be aiming to defend his crown this year.

Prediction: While 2019 has been a disappointing year for Zverev, there’s no doubt he’ll be determined to salvage his season by triumphing in the capital again. However, I think he’ll struggle to progress beyond the group stage.

Group Bjorn Borg

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Novak Djokovic [2] (Serbia)

2019 record: 53-9; Career record vs. group: 32-25

Djokovic has continued his comeback from injury this year with another stellar campaign. Victorious at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the Serb has compiled a 53-9 record this season. Coming to London on the back of securing the title in Paris, Djokovic will be confident in his bid to claim his sixth championship at the ATP Finals.

Prediction: Winning the tournament, combined with Nadal failing to reach the semi-finals will see the 16-time grand slam champion return to the top of the rankings. Djokovic is a strong contender for the title.

Roger Federer [3] (Switzerland)

2019 record: 51-8; Career record vs. group: 25-30

The 38-year-old Swiss has secured another four titles this season – taking his career haul to 103. Despite failing to add to his tally of 20 grand slam titles, Federer held two championship points at Wimbledon this summer against Djokovic at 8-7 in the fifth, before falling agonisingly short.

Prediction: Opting out of the recent Paris event means Federer will come to London fresh and ready to target a seventh title in the capital. However, I think he’ll struggle to make it out of a tough group.

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Dominic Thiem [5] (Austria)

2019 record: 46-17; Career record vs. group: 9-9

The Austrian has had a mixed year on the court. The highs were a second straight French Open final and the biggest title of his career at Indian Wells, however, he failed to advance beyond the second round in any of the other three grand slams.

Prediction: This year will be the 26-year-old’s fourth appearance at the Finals in London, where he will be aiming to progress beyond the group stage for the first time. I think he’ll progress to the semi-finals.

Matteo Berrettini [8] (Italy)

2019 record: 42-21; Career record vs. group: 1-3

Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Last to secure qualification into the tournament, the 23-year-old is the first Italian to qualify for the ATP Finals in singles since Corrado Barazzutti in 1978. Ranked as low as 57 in mid-March, Berrettini has soared up the rankings, with an impressive run to the US Open semi-finals the main highlight of his season.

Prediction: An exciting newcomer to the tournament. However, I think his lack of experience will prove telling on the big stage.

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