Novak Djokovic defeats Zverev to reach ATP finals last four
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With 100 days to go until the ATP Finals, only Novak Djokovic has qualified for the prestigious year-end tournament. The Serb clinched a spot at the event for the 14th time in his career last month after winning Wimbledon, his third Grand Slam title of the year. It’s the first time the top-eight event will be played in Turin, following a 12-year stint at London’s O2 Arena.
The tournament sees the top eight players of the year battle it out for up to 1500 ranking points and the coveted ATP Finals trophy.
Players can only qualify if they have achieved the most points so far in the year, with the eight most successful of the season allowed to enter the tournament.
That will be the case once again this year unless a top 20 player wins the US Open, in which case the seven players with the most points this season plus the top 20 Grand Slam champion will qualify.
The five-time ATP Finals champion is the only player to have secured his spot in Turin so far, having won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon so far this year.
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Now there are only 100 days to go until the tournament kicks off in Turin for the first time on November 12 and seven more spots to fill, I’m casting my predictions for who will fill the remaining seven spots based on their season so far and what’s to come.
Currently second in the race to Turin with 4,660 ranking points, the Greek is an easy bet to make the year-end finals, an event he won back in 2019.
So far this year he has already won his first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo and made his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, going two sets up on Djokovic before falling in five.
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Although he struggled at Wimbledon, which started just two weeks after the death of his grandmother, he enjoys the upcoming North American hard court swing. His breakthrough came in Toronto back in 2018 where he beat Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev to reach his first Masters final.
Another first-time Major finalist this year, the Italian had a stellar 2019 but couldn’t reproduce the results in 2020, only keeping his ranking thanks to the adjustment in the points system for the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s more than made up for it this year with finals at the Madrid Masters 1000 and Wimbledon, as well as titles in Belgrade and Queens, and he has the US Open to come, where he reached his first Major semi-final two years ago.
Currently fourth in the race, Rublev has already won the ATP Cup and Rotterdam this year, following these up with his first Masters semi-final in Miami and first Masters final at the next opportunity in Monte Carlo.
The Russian is fresh off of winning Olympic gold alongside Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenokova and is a big hitter on the hard courts, with it being the only surface for the remainder of the season, boosting his hopes of adding more points to qualify for Turin.
The world number three had made the quarter-finals or better at every tournament in 2021 until this week’s Citi Open in Washington, picking up titles in Barcelona and Rome along the way.
A left foot injury kept him out of Wimbledon and the Olympics but he has been finding his form once again in Washington and feels positive about the rest of the season. He’s also still number seven in the race having only played six tournaments this year – a very impressive conversion rate that should see him qualify for the tournament that has always evaded him.
The Canadian has been close to qualifying for the year-end finals before but always fallen a few places short, now standing at 11th in the race with 100 days to go.
Although he has withdrawn from multiple events this season, he’s racked up 1,635 points in 14 tournaments. Among his achievements so far this year, he’s made the finals in Geneva and his debut Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, falling to Djokovic, which took him back to the top ten in the rankings.
Always a charismatic player on court, he’s set to impress at his home tournament in Toronto next week and has a proven track record of doing well at the upcoming US Open too, having made the fourth round as a qualifier in 2017 and the quarter-final last year.
The British number two is having the season of his career, currently sitting at 12th in the race. He made three finals this year and lost them, before finally capturing his first title in Los Cabos just weeks ago, and is now at a career-high ranking of 29.
A strong hard court player, Norrie upset fifth seed Diego Schwartzman at last year’s US Open so looks set to impress on the North American hard court season once again this summer and boost his points to make it to Turin, it’s just a shame that the tournament has moved away from London in the year that a new Brit looks set to finally make it.
Pablo Carreno Busta
The Spaniard is currently 14th in the race and was able to play the ATP Finals in 2017, serving as an alternate when compatriot Nadal pulled out after his first round-robin match, so will be keen to get back and qualify on his own merit this time.
So far this year he has picked up two ATP Tour titles and, most impressively, the bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, beating Djokovic to do so. He’s in a good position for the upcoming US Open, where he made his first Slam semi-final last year, so can add to his 2021 points there. He was on course to trouble Djokovic in New York last year too, going up a break to serve for the first set before the Serb hit a ball away in frustration, getting disqualified when it made contact with a lineswoman.
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