10sBalls.com

Updated race to London Tennis Championship • Rublev rolls into Nitto ATP Finals position


By Ricky Dimon

A most unusual tennis season is coming down the home stretch, with the clay-court swing over and indoor hard courts now taking center stage. That means the Nitto ATP Finals are not far away–almost exactly one month, in fact. It is the final finale in London before the year-end championship moves to Turin starting in 2021.

With four weeks remaining for players to gain points in an effort to qualify for the O2 Arena festivities, let’s take a look at how the race stands. Keep in mind that due to the new ranking system used for this abbreviated 2020 campaign, London qualification is based solely on the rankings (minus points acquired at last season’s Nitto ATP Finals) as opposed to a 2020 race. And this list does not include Roger Federer, who would have qualified but is out for the year due to a knee injury.

1. Novak Djokovic – 11,740 points

Djokovic is skipping the Paris Masters because he cannot gain any ranking points there as the 2019 champion, but he can clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking next week in Vienna. The Serb has made 12 year-end championship appearances and has won it five times (but no titles since 2015).

2. Rafael Nadal – 9,850 points

Nadal has announced that he will play the Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals. The second-ranked Spaniard has never won either event, but a short season has his body in unusually good shape for the end of the year. Nadal has played the year-end championship nine times, finishing runner-up in 2010 and 2013.

3. Dominic Thiem – 9,125 points

Djokovic, Nadal, and Thiem are lapping everyone else when it comes to ranking points and will finish one, two, three in some order. Thiem still has Vienna (defending champion), Paris, and the Nitto ATP Finals left on his 2020 schedule. The U.S. Open champion has made four London appearances and reached the final last fall.

4. Stefanos Tsitsipas – 5,925 points

Tsitsipas lifted the trophy inside the O2 Arena in 2019, outlasting Thiem in a final-set tiebreaker. The Greek has clinched a return trip to London without any trouble, with a French Open semifinal performance among his stellar results this season. Like Thiem, Tsitsipas plans on warming up for London in both Vienna and Paris.

5. Daniil Medvedev – 5,890 points.

Medvedev has not enjoyed the same success in 2020 as he did in 2019, but the new rankings format has obviously done him a world of good since he has kept most of his 2019 points. Thus the Russian qualified for a second London appearance with ease. He will be looking to improve on last year’s effort inside the O2, where he compiled a 0-3 record in round-robin play.

6. Alexander Zverev – 4,855 points

Zverev recently became the sixth man to book a spot in London, leaving two more places up for grabs. The German is currently playing for a second consecutive week in Cologne, where he captured the title this past Sunday. He is not on the Vienna entry list but will take the court at the Paris Masters for final London preparation. Zverev has played in the year-end championship three times, winning it in 2018.

7. Andrey Rublev – 3,429 points

Rublev is currently next in line to qualify. The Russian was already in great position to do so and then he captured a 500-point title in St. Petersburg last week, putting him in even better standing. Rublev is an amazing 34-7 this season with four titles, so a debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals would be well-deserved.

8. Diego Schwartzman – 3,180 points

Schwartzman is also in position for first-ever London qualification. The diminutive Argentine finished runner-up to Djokovic at the Rome Masters and reached the semifinals of the French Open. His schedule is a busy one as he looks to hold off other London contenders for the eighth and final spot. Schwartzman is playing in Cologne this week and Vienna next week followed by the Paris Masters.

Also in contention

9. Matteo Berrettini – 3,075 points
10. Gael Monfils – 2,860 points
11. Denis Shapovalov – 2,830 points
12. Roberto Bautista Agut – 2,710 points
13. David Goffin – 2,555 points
14. Pablo Carreno Busta – 2,400 points
15. Fabio Fognini – 2,400 points

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.