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World Tour Finals promise plenty of thrills

Federer set for 11th straight appearance at season-ending event

Gulf News

The culmination of the ATP World Tour season is always an exciting time. Over the last few weeks, we have seen David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro earn their way into the elite eight-man field for the ATP’s season-ending World Tour Finals event, which begins in London on Monday. They join Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who reserved their places earlier in the year.

The last regular tour event, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, determined the final two players — Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic.

Roger deserves special mention. He has now qualified 11 straight years for our year-end finale and won the tournament six times, including the last two years in London. At 31 years, he still has seemingly unlimited reserves and will be looking to make it three successive wins at the O2 in London.

It’s disappointing that Rafael Nadal will not be able to play this year and join the other players who have been the best in 2012. Rafa has played every year-end event since 2006 and is always one of the favourites with his engaging personality and exciting playing style. His first six months of the year were incredible, winning four tournaments — Roland Garros and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Monte Carlo, Rome and Barcelona — and reaching the final of the Australian Open. We all look forward to 2013, when we will see him return to the ATP World Tour, fresh and ready to play.

Another fight to the finish that has also taken place in the last few weeks is the battle for the year-end No. 1 spot in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. In the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973), only 16 players have ever held this position at the end of the season: Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. It is a list that reflects the greatest champions in the history of our sport and shows how the year-end World No. 1 ranking is the greatest test of a player’s physical and mental talent.

Competitive season

Djokovic recently secured the year-end World No. 1 spot for the second consecutive year after his last two impressive results in China, winning both the China Open in Beijing and the Shanghai Rolex Masters, and also due to Roger being unable to successfully defend his titles at the Swiss Indoors in Basel and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. What an amazing achievement to finish on top of the rankings in such a competitive season — probably the toughest achievement in tennis.

In doubles, Bob and Mike Bryan have also already wrapped up the year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team Ranking, their fourth in a row and eighth overall, after winning Olympic gold, the US Open and five ATP World Tour titles — a huge year. They are now also looking to win their fourth Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title. As far as the history books go, it will be very difficult for any team in the future to surpass the Bryans, who have now won more titles together (82) than any other doubles team.

With so much still on the line, we are set for some amazing tennis at the end of the ATP World Tour season. I can’t wait!

— The writer is Executive Chairman and President of the ATP.