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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer© ATPThe world's Top 4 players - Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - will lead a star-studded line-up at The O2.

Stage Set For Dramatic Climax In London

After months of hard graft in an intense Battle for London, the stage is set for a dramatic finale at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals next week.

In keeping with tradition, the race went right down to the wire with Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco only learning their fate at the BNP Paribas Masters in the last few days of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Paris.  Both suffered earlier than expected exits in Bercy and were forced to endure anxious waits, but secured their places as fellow contenders, Robin Soderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, failed to reach the final.

While Novak Djokovic's consistently strong performances earned him a place in the final eight following the US Open, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro booked his ticket in the most dramatic of fashions.  The 21-year-old Tandil native lit up New York as he blitzed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and edged Roger Federer in a gripping final to win his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Swede Robin Soderling, who reached the Roland Garros final, completed the line-up as a late entrant when Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.  With Federer, Nadal and Djokovic leading the elite eight-man field, fans attending the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in south-east London can anticipate world-class tennis and pulsating contests to close, what has been, a memorable 2009 ATP World Tour season.

Can Rafa Pip Roger?

NadalThe battle to secure the title of ATP World Tour Champion took a dramatic twist at the BNP Paribas Masters and left the contest wide open heading into the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.  Federer and Nadal have been locked in a year-long tussle for the year-end No. 1 spot in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings and at the start of the tournament in Paris (Bercy), Federer looked to have it all but sewn up.

Scenarios In Battle To Be Crowned ATP World Tour Champion

However, on the same day that Nadal saved five match points to defeat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, Federer suffered a shock second-round defeat to Frenchman Julien Benneteau.  World No. 2 Nadal went on to reach the semi-finals, closing the gap between the pair to 945 South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings points.  With 1,500 points on offer to an undefeated champion at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Federer is certainly within the Mallorcan's reach.

The 28-year-old Federer is bidding to become only the second player in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings to regain the year-end top spot.  The 2004-07 ATP World Tour Champion surrendered his crown to Nadal last season, but is now close to replicating Ivan Lendl’s 1989 feat.  Czech turned-American Lendl held the year-end No. 1 South African Airways ATP Rankings from 1985-87, finished second behind Mats Wilander in 1988 before restoring his place at the summit of men’s professional tennis the following year.

Contemporary Agora Hosts Revamped Valencia Open 500

MurrayThe Valencia Open 500, an ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament, made a smooth transition from a spring fixture on outdoor clay to a major indoor event in October at the City of Arts & Sciences, where the contemporary and sleek design of the Agora building hosted a 5,500-seater Centre Court arena.  The magnificent Agora building was designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls and was built in the old river bed of the River Turia.  It is flanked on one side by the Serreria Bridge and on the other by the Aquarium.

The tournament, part-owned and organised by Spaniard's David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, played a pivotal role in the Battle for London with contenders Davydenko and Verdasco pressing their claim by advancing to the semi-finals.  World No. 4 Andy Murray won his sixth ATP World Tour title of the year on his Valencia debut, defeating in-form Mikhail Youzhny in the final.

Final Curtain Call

UllyettKevin Ullyett brought the curtain down on a glittering 19-year professional career after a second round defeat with Brazilian partner Bruno Soares at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris this month.  Three weeks earlier, Ullyett won the 34th tour-level title of his career (34-25 overall) at the If Stockholm Open with Soares.  The 37-year-old Zimbabwean partnered 72 different players and ended with a 502-308 lifetime doubles record.

London-based Ullyett reached a career-high No. 4 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 31 January 2005.  The right-hander clinched two Grand Slam men's doubles titles with compatriot Wayne Black at the 2001 US Open (d. Johnson-Palmer) and the 2005 Australian Open (d. Bryan-Bryan).  The duo also finished runner-up at the 2004 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai (l. to Bryan-Bryan).  Ullyett also won one Grand Slam mixed doubles crown with Daniela Hantuchova at the 2002 Australian Open (d. Etlis-Suarez). 

Ullyett peaked at No. 107 (22 May 2000) in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and reached one ATP World Tour singles final in June 1999 at Nottingham (l. to Pioline). 

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