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Are changes afoot?



TENNIS – As the dried ice, bright lights and thumping music fade following the conclusion of this year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2, there are a couple of questions which currently remain unanswered. By Harry Wancke for Tennis Today


As the dried ice, bright lights and thumping music fade following the conclusion of this year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2, there are a couple of questions which currently remain unanswered.

One – will the event stay at the O2? and two – will the man who created it be moving on?

In its fifth of a seven year agreement between the ATP Tour and the O2 Arena, the championships, involving the best eight singles and eight best doubles pairs in the world, attracted another record crowd of 260,000 which adds up to an attendance total of over 1.25 million spectators in the years the Tour Finals have been staged in London.

From a commercial point of view, it has been a financial success and it would seem crazy to move it to any other country or venue.

However, some players are keen to see that happen, like Novak Djokovic, who successfully defended his title at this year’s event.

“The tournament is of the eight best players in the world. It is the tournament which is not fixed for one city or one country, it is in ATP’s hands to think about this,” he stated at the start of the event following Rafael Nadal’s comment that the surface should be varied from year to year so that clay court exponents stood a chance of overall victory.

Nadal, of course is ‘The King of Clay’, who has never won the event and this year’s final showed that he has some way to go to match his Serbian rival indoors.

Dokovic also points out that to continue to popularise the sport, the shop window should play its part – as it used to in its early days – by staging it in other cities for not more than three years in each venue.

“I know various players share the same opinion, because of the promotion of tennis,” he said, adding that the ATP should be looking into that.

The O2 agreement comes to an end after the 2015 championships and cities will no doubt be bidding for it over the coming months but there cannot be a better argument for it stay in London than the fact Britain’s capital is now synonymously associated with the Tour finals.

In addition, as mentioned, it has more than proven itself a commercial success.

And the man behind that success? Chris Kermode, who could well become the new president and executive chairman of the ATP Tour and if that does come about – an announcement is expected within the next week or so – he would be the first Briton to fill that post, previously occupied since 1990 by Mark Miles, Etienne de Villiers, Adam Helfant and Brad Drewett.

The vacancy became available when Brad Drewett died last May following an unsuccessful fight against cancer. A popular man, the ATP World Tour Trophy has been renamed the Brad Drewett trophy and, as many will have noticed, all the umpires and lines-people at this year’s event displayed, in memory of the man, a bold BD badge on their uniforms.

Kermode would be a more than a suitable replacement for apart from The Championships, Wimbledon, he runs the two biggest tennis events in Britain, the Tour Finals at the O2 and the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club. Both vastly different affairs.

The former could be described as a ‘tennis festival’ while the latter is more of a garden party seeped in history and consequently appealing to the ‘traditional’ tennis follower.

Should the popular 48 year-old Kermode be chosen from the four-man shortlist currently being considered, it could prove an embarrassment to the Lawn Tennis Association, who allegedly, didn’t even consider him for the post of chief executive, a position which was subsequently filled by Tennis Canada’s Michael Downey.

Kermode came into tennis from the music world so one can understand the razzmatazz of the O2 and believes he learnt some valuable lessons in those early days, lessons he has been able to apply to his current role and turn the 18,000 seat O2 into ‘the biggest indoor tennis event in the world ever’.

Kermode, who competed at Challenger level, said: “The thing I find interesting is that I run two events in the same city but acknowledge they are very different venues. And how they are put on is very different. It’s what is applicable to the stage you’re on.

“With the finals I thought the 02 was primarily a music venue so let’s bring the elements of that show to tennis. Light and stage the arena in a different way. The lights on the stage – the court – and the audience in darkness.

“I fought for two sessions a day rather than one. It’s worked well. Two lots of 18,000 at £20 a ticket and half price for under-16s. Creates a huge opportunity to engage with an audience who would not normally go to a tennis event.

“It’s very easy to think ‘well that works at the 02, let’s try it at Queen’s, the music, lights etcetera’. It wouldn’t.”

He explained: “Queen’s was already an incredibly successful tournament and it was ‘how could I tweak it’. You’d be a fool to mess with the core element.

“With the 02 event I could make my mark. I was handed a blank piece of paper to set it up.Just a bit of responsibility? Yeh. A fantastic challenge and I’m so proud of how it has developed.”

One can only hope that if he does get the job he will vote to keep the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London. That would certainly be the right answer.


The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter



By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.


2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.

Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.

Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals



Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)


Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

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