BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2013
Del Potro, Ferrer, Tsonga Press Finale Claims
by Josh Meiseles|
With just five weeks of the 2013 ATP World Tour season to play, the Emirates ATP Race to London is approaching a riveting conclusion. Eight of the Top 10 players in the world are competing this week in Beijing and Tokyo, with valuable points up for grabs ahead of the season finale at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Nadal, whose resurgent 2013 campaign will go down as one of the most remarkable seasons of his career, is the man leading the charge. Despite having missed the first month of the year, the Spaniard has amassed 11,015 points thus far, a seemingly insurmountable 3,000 clear of rival Novak Djokovic. The 27 year old is a 10-time champion in 2013, with signature Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, as well as ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is in the midst of a stellar year as well, having completed a three-peat at the Australian Open, while winning the title in Dubai and denying Nadal a ninth straight Monte-Carlo crown in mid-April. The World No. 1 was a finalist to Andy Murray at Wimbledon and to Rafael Nadal at the US Open.
Both Nadal and Djokovic are present in Beijing this week, with a potential blockbuster final in the cards. Nadal brings a 61-3 record in 2013 into the China Open, while Djokovic puts a 52-9 mark on the line.
With 4,900 points in the Emirates ATP Race to London, David Ferrer sits on the heels of Andy Murray for the third position. The Spaniard is the next player on the cusp of qualifying after securing a three-peat in Auckland to open the year and defending his Buenos Aires title a month later, to go along with a maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. The durable 31 year old reached the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals championship match in 2007, his first of four appearances, falling to Federer in straight sets. Ferrer accompanies Nadal and Djokovic in Beijing this week, with a potential semi-final clash with the Serb on the horizon.
Currently No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Race to London, Tomas Berdych enters the home stretch with considerable momentum following his run to the Bangkok final. It was his third final of the year after finishing runner-up in both Dubai and Marseille. A semi-finalist at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome and Cincinnati, the Czech is eyeing a fourth consecutive trip to London. The fourth seed at the China Open, Berdych faces a stacked field this week as he eyes a second title in the Chinese capital (d. Cilic in 2011).
Also in contention for a spot in the final eight is 2009 finalist Juan Martin del Potro, who is the top seed at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, in Tokyo. It would be just his second appearance in London in four years, since succumbing to Nikolay Davydenko in 2009. The Argentine emerged victorious at the hard court events in Rotterdam and Washington and was the finalist in Indian Wells (l. to Nadal). His run to the semis at Wimbledon was his best result at a major since winning the US Open crown four years ago.
With less than 800 points separating del Potro for the sixth position and 2011 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at No. 10, the coming weeks will determine the final five spots in London. After competing in Tokyo and at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, del Potro will seek to defend his Basel title in October.
A pair of Swiss stars rounds out the Top 8. Six-time champion Roger Federer finds himself in uncharted territory, battling to qualify at No. 7 in the standings. With a streak of 11 consecutive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals appearances on the line, Federer will look to further solidify his place in the Top 8 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, beginning 6 October. His lone title of the year came on the grass courts of Halle and he was the runner-up at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Rome. Bidding to qualify for the first time, countryman Stanislas Wawrinka rounds out the final eight after winning at the Portugal Open and advancing to his first Grand Slam semi-final, at the US Open, and second Masters 1000 final, in Madrid.
Wawrinka will be the No. 6 seed this week in Beijing, and is joined by fifth seed Richard Gasquet, who is on the outside looking in, in the Emirates ATP Race to London, in the ninth position. The Doha and Montpellier champion made his lone appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in 2007. Wawrinka finds himself in the same quarter of the China Open draw as Djokovic, while Gasquet would meet Ferrer in quarter-finals.
Another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, finds himself over 300 points behind Wawrinka for the eighth spot. Tsonga has experienced considerable success on home soil in 2013, with a semi-final finish in Roland Garros, title run in Marseille and runner-up result in Metz. He is the second seed in Tokyo and opens with a high-profile first-round battle with compatriot Gael Monfils.
The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals has welcomed more than a million fans to The O2 arena over the past four years, establishing itself as the biggest indoor tennis tournament in the world since moving to London in 2009. Tickets to the tournament, which takes place from 4-11 November, can be purchased at: www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com.
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - The Contenders
(Based on the calendar-year Emirates ATP Race To London standings as of Monday, 30 September 2013.)
M. del Potro (ARG)