Season elite locked in for London finale

The field is set for the 50th anniversary of the ATP Finals, with former champions and two debutants out for glory.

Diego Schwartzman during the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Cédric Lecocq/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

2020 has obviously been a disjointed and difficult season for many reasons beyond the realms of sport, but there has still been memorable moments bursting through on a tennis court.

The finest male players have wielded their racket and only an octet have earned the prestigious ticket to London.

These eight stars will hope to curtail their campaign with silverware at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena from 15-22 November.

The world No.1, Roland-Garros winner, former champions and a brace of debutants make up the field with a hefty 1500 ranking points up for grabs.

Novak Djokovic at Roland-Garros 2020©Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Novak Djokovic

A giant goal has been ticked for Djokovic. The world No.1 was fiercely focused on joining tennis idol Pete Sampras on a record-equalling six year-end finishes at top of the rankings.

With a sort of burden lifted, it would be naive to think the 33-year-old will be anything but zoning in on a sixth ATP Finals trophy.

Djokovic will be eager to reassert his authority over the upper echelons of the sport and reclaim the title for the first time since 2015.

Rafael Nadal fist pumping at the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Rafael Nadal

In terms of tennis the ‘King of Clay’ will always associate 2020 with Roland-Garros.

Just a month ago the world No.2 captured his 20th major on Court Philippe Chatrier to tie Roger Federer at the top of the all-time roll of honour. Just the 13 Roland-Garros titles for the Spaniard…

Since then a 1000th career singles victory came at the Rolex Paris Masters where his quest was halted at the semi-final hurdle. However, he struck some scintillating highlight-reel shots to evoke he’s on the right track for London.

Finalist in 2010 and 2013, Nadal could really lay down a marker for 2021.

Dominic Thiem during the Australian Open 2020©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Dominic Thiem

12 months ago the Austrian fell just short in a pulsating tie-break to lose the ATP Finals trophy showdown against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In press after that gripping bout, Thiem stated, “I'm pretty sure that we're going to see a new and young Grand Slam champion next year.”

Well, the 27-year-old was right, lifting his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September. His heroics in New York illustrated the burgeoning belief installed in him by coach Nicolas Massu. At any point, Thiem will fight, compete and dig deep.

The world No.3 has flourished into a riveting player for all surfaces, able to bring his explosive artillery to any court and will relish the chance to go on step further in London.

Stefanos Tsitsipas during the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Philippe Montigny/FFT

Stefanos Tsitsipas

By his steep standards, 2020 hasn’t been a stellar season from the reigning champion.

The gregarious Greek has fallen in the third round of both the Australian Open and US Open with one title to his name in Marseille back in February. The 22-year-old was also denied the title by Djokovic in Dubai prior to lockdown.

Tsitsipas shot back into the limelight on the clay as a finalist in Hamburg just prior to Roland-Garros.

In Paris the world No.6 battled back from two sets down for the first time ever in the opening encounter against Jaume Munar.

Fast forward to the quarter-finals and he brushed aside Rublev in straight sets, before a gutsy five-set defeat at the hands of Djokovic.

Expect another strong showing from the Greek in east London.

Daniil Medvedev during the Rolex Paris Matsers 2020©Philippe Montigny/FFT

Daniil Medvedev

It’s fair to say Medvedev arrived in Paris searching for a spark to reignite his season.

Five defeats in his previous eight matches threatened to see his season fizzle out, but the Russian is rejuvenated at the Rolex Paris Maasters with Kevin Anderson, Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic all falling to his trickery.

The world No.5, into his first final in 13 months, is stubborn once again on court, offering very little hope of free points or a drop of determination.

Alexander Zverev during the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Alexander Zverev

Letting the US Open final slip from his grasp must still haunt Alexander Zverev, but whatever outsiders seem to suggest, the German always retaliates with results.

The 2018 ATP Finals champion (consecutively ousting Federer then Djokovic for the silverware) doubled up to collect both trophies in Cologne to build plenty of momentum for London. He’s currently on 12 consecutive victories.

13 aces powered the 23-year-old to a standout 6-4, 7-5 triumph over Nadal in Bercy, sending out a real signal of intent to his ATP Finals rivals regardless of the result against Medvedev on Sunday.

Andrey Rublev during the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Philippe Montigny/FFT

Andrey Rublev

The signs were there in January.

Rublev, starting the season free of injuries at a respectable No.23, became the first man since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to take home two trophies in the first fortnight of the season (Doha and Adelaide).

Since then the Russian has bludgeoned the ball to a tour-leading five titles and astonishing 40 match wins. His resilience and reserves have been a revelation to watch, you cannot count him out.

Rublev’s consistency and courage to persist on the front foot make sure the world No.8 will be a blockbuster addition to the field on debut at the ATP Finals.

Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman taking a picture together during the Rolex Paris MAsters 2020©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Diego Schwartzman

It’s all happening for the amicable Argentine.

Schwartzman hailed his “best ever” match to outplay Nadal in Rome en route to his maiden Masters 1000 final (before losing to Djokovic).

Over to Roland-Garros and the diminutive 28-year-old packed a punch to advance to a first ever Grand Slam semi-final, propelling him into the Top 10 for the first time.

Just like Rublev, his match IQ, his ability to hang tough has hauled Schwartzman up the rankings.

He’s had a taste for huge victories and will be hunting for more to mark his bow at the ATP Finals.