The ATP’s blue-riband occasion has proved an enormous success because it switched to London’s cavernous O2 Arena in 2009, drawing promote-out crowds to watch the world’s high eight singles gamers and doubles pairs go head-to-head.
Last yr practically 250,000 followers flocked to the Thames-side dome over the eight days of the event gained by Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. This time, with London in COVID-19 lockdown, the 20,000-seater area might be eerily empty, barring the gamers, their coaches, event officers and a smattering of media.
Players should reside in a strict ‘bubble’ and even line judges might be lacking, changed by the Hawk-eye reside system used lately on the U.S. Open.
In these straitened instances prize cash has additionally been slashed from final yr’s whole pot of $9 million to $5.7 million with an undefeated champion to pocket $1.56 million in contrast to the $2.6 million Tsitsipas earned regardless of shedding one spherical-robin match.
Not that money would be the motivator for world primary Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and debutants Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman when the event’s fiftieth version begins on Sunday.
Serbian Djokovic, 33, is assured to finish the yr as primary for a sixth time, equalling Pete Sampras’s report.
But the final of his 5 titles on the yr-ender got here in 2015 and, after his current default within the U.S. Open and thrashing by Nadal within the French Open closing he might be keen to put the yr to mattress with a strong assertion.
Djokovic, denied the possibility to defend his Wimbledon title this yr when it was cancelled for the primary time since World War II, can match the absent Roger Federer’s six ATP Finals titles. Nadal, extremely, nonetheless awaits his first.
The Spanish 20-instances Grand Slam champion has a comparatively mediocre report within the occasion, his greatest runs being two runner-up finishes in London in 2010 and 2013.
His final two appearances led to spherical-robin stage exits.
“Of course I wanted to win the tournament, but it’s always difficult,” Nadal, who has by no means had the profit of contesting it on his favoured clay, mentioned.
After the domination of Federer and Djokovic, who gained 11 of the 13 editions between 2003 and 2015, the final three years in London has seen first-time winners in Grigor Dimitrov, Zverev and Tsitsipas and that sequence might proceed.
Austrian world quantity three Thiem, the U.S. Open champion, was runner-up in 2019 and would love to cement his breakthrough yr by profitable essentially the most prestigious title exterior of the 4 Grand Slams.
Medvedev, who might be joined this yr by fellow Russian Rublev, additionally seems wager after warming up in fashion by profitable final week’s Paris Masters, though on his debut final yr he misplaced all three of his spherical-robin matches.
“Hopefully I can get some wins. I have no other goal than just to get some wins,” Medvedev, who misplaced to Nadal on the O2 final yr regardless of main 5-1 within the deciding set, mentioned.
Rublev might be harmful too, having gained 5 titles this yr, greater than another participant. While Schwartzman lately cracked the highest 10 for the primary time on the age of 28.