London Called

By Jane Voigt

November 4, 2013 -- It's pretty well known that if you accumulate something around 3000 ranking points, you will get the invitation to the ATP's year-ending finals. Outside that number, pack your bags it's time for vacation. 

Here are the eight that made the grade and the points that got them to the O2 Arena in London. 

Rafael Nadal -- 12,030
Novak Djokovic -- 10,610
David Ferrer -- 5,800
Andy Murray (withdrawn) -- 5,790
Juan Martin del Potro -- 5,055
Tomas Berdych -- 3,980
Roger Federer -- 3,805
Stanislaus Wawrinka -- 3,330
Richard Gasquet -- 3,300

Just like the WTA, the ATP forms two groups for round-robin play, which leads to semifinals and a final. Each round adds money to the players' pots, big money. Yet even before a ball is struck, take a look at their tournament prize money earned in 2013.

Rafael Nadal -- $11,047,915
Novak Djokovic -- 9,263,137
David Ferrer -- 3,937,492
J. M. Del Potro -- 3,602,965
Tomas Berdych -- 2,336,315
Roger Federer -- 2,362,912
Stanislaus Wawrinka -- 2,193,188
Richard Gasquet -- 2,245,176

All are return veterans, with the exception of Stanislaus Wawrinka from Switzerland. He is making his debut in London. The man who has stood in the shadow of Roger Federer for most of his career has finally formed his own on-court identity. Wawrinka showed little sign of stage fright today in his opening round. He defeated Tomas Berdych, 63 67(0) 63.

Rafael Nadal is making his fifth appearance and is the No. 1 seed. His year has been another one for the record books. 

After 7 months of rehab, he sprang to action at the end of February and never let up, winning 10 titles, two of them Grand Slams: The French Open (a record 8th) and The U. S. Open. He is one of a few who can again end the year as No. 1, after having lost it. He did just that in 2008 and 2010. Maybe even numbers play into the Spaniard's quirky habits. To secure the highest ranking he must win 2 matches of round-robin play. Given the groupings, the goal is clearly in view. However, Nadal has never won an ATP World Tour Final in five appearances, and indoor hard courts are not his best surface.

Group A
Rafael Nadal
David Ferrer
Tomas Berdych
Stanislaus Wawrinka

Group B
Novak Djokovic
Juan Martin del Potro
Roger Federer
Richard Gasquet

Novak Djokovic -- the No. 2 seed -- would like to stop the Nadal train because he is the one who took away the No. 1 ranking from him. However, the possibilities are slight even though Djokovic has not lost a match since the U. S. Open final, which Nadal won. 

Djokovic, though, is the defending champion in London, having won the title one other time in 2008. Plus, if we shove all relevant statistics aside, the Serbian has an uncanny ability to start slow, looking as if he'll fall asleep of break a couple racquets he gets so cranky, then at pivotal moments pulls himself together. In the Paris Masters final yesterday, David Ferrer was up a break in both sets, and serving for the match in the second. Yet, Djokovic simply started to play better on all fronts. He won 75 75. This was his third consecutive title. 

The contest for number one begins tomorrow.

Roger Federer meets Djokovic, for the second time in five days. Federer holds the record for titles at this event -- 6. He relishes the day-after-day demand of the week, and seems to have found his form. His back is better, too. Federer will want to get revenge for his loss to Djokovic in Paris. Federer was up a set and a break in one semifinal, when Nole did his about face.

Ironically, Nadal will meet David Ferrer, for the second time in five days. Ferrer played a fierce match against Nadal in the other Paris semifinal, defeating his friend for only the 5th time in 25 meetings. Nadal will want to reassert his dominance in their head-to-head record, even if they are Spanish compatriots. 

Being invited to the Barclays ATP World Tour Final is an annual goal for most of these men. That it is staged at the end of the year, when most can smell the finish line and the salty air of an ocean resort, does not seem to interfere. The ranking points will give them fuel for 2014. The money will buy more margaritas at the beach.  




© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013