The ATP World Tour Finals are underway this week, signifying the end to the 2017 men’s tennis season. Despite the fact that it is neither a Grand Slam nor a Masters 1000 event, this is one of the biggest tournaments of the year. Here are some things to know if you plan on tuning in for any of the matches (taking place from November 12-19).
The ATP Finals consists of a doubles and a singles event, but here we’re focusing on the singles. The top eight players of this season, by rank, are chosen to compete (with any absences due to injury or unavailability being filled by the next highest ranked players). You can view the field as seeded at the tournament website, but to quickly give you the names, here are the players competing: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, and Jack Sock.
What’s The Format?
The eight players are split into two groups: Group A and Group B. Within those groups, each player will play every other player in a round-robin format (with best-of-three set matches). The winner of each group then advances to the semi-final to face the second place player of the opposite group. There is a tie-break procedure in place to break any ties in the standings in the groups.
What’s At Stake?
The point system is different for this tournament than most, as players can earn points with each successive win. A win in the group stage is worth 200 points; a win in the semi-finals is worth 400; a finals victory is worth 500; and a player who makes it through the entire event undefeated will earn 1500 points (which is why this event is often so crucial to deciding the year-end number one player). Prize money works in somewhat similar tiers, with the total pot at the tournament being $8 million. An undefeated winner earns just over $2.5 million, and an ordinary champion will make $1.2 million.
Is #1 Up For Grabs?
Since the U.S. Open, much of the talk in men’s tennis has revolved around the battle for the honor of year-end number one – something that’s very important to the top players. It looked like this could come down to Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer. However, Nadal has put the ranking out of reach. Though as one preview noted he’s still seeking his first win at this particularly tournament, he will end the year at the top regardless of the outcome. This was assured when Federer pulled out of the Paris Masters recently.
Who’s The Favorite?
The way this season has gone, it’s hard to look at this as anything other than a contest between Federer and Nadal. These two combined to win all four Grand Slams (two apiece) and have regained the top spots in the sport. Between them, Federer appears to have the inside track. He’s undefeated against Nadal this year and has had far more success at this particular event in the past. Throw in the fact that Nadal has said he’s unable to practice properly due to a knee injury, and it looks like Federer’s tournament to lose. That said, Zverev has proven capable of beating the top players on tour even at his young age, and when Cilic gets hot he’s very difficult to stop.