The end of the US Open may mean that Grand Slam tennis is over for another year, but the world’s top players are still competing in the Race to London for the right to compete in the Nitto ATP Finals this November.

ATP Finals Race to London
Kei Nishikori currently holds the eighth and final spot in the Race to London rankings used for qualification at the year-end ATP Finals. (Image: Reuters)

Only the top eight men’s players (as well as the top eight doubles pairs) will be able to compete in the ATP Finals, which take place at The O2 in London from Nov. 10-17 this year.

Year-End Rankings Key to ATP Finals Selection

Casual tennis fans are often confused by the fact that there seem to be two different ranking systems used in the spot. Throughout the year, the ATP Tour rankings are used, which are based on a player’s results over the past 52 weeks. That means these rankings are constantly shifting, and sometimes players can’t even improve their standing by winning a tournament: if they won that same tournament the previous year, the best they can do is earn the same number of points to avoid losing ground.

The Race to London, on the other hand, only includes events from the current year. That means there’s no rotation, and no points to defend. Instead, players just accumulate points based on their results. The goal is to achieve the highest year-end ranking possible, with the top eight players as of Nov. 4 earning a spot in the ATP Finals.

So far, four players have clinched a spot into the ATP Finals this season. It comes as little surprise that three of these are Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer, who have continued their domination of the tour for yet another season in 2019. They’re joined by Daniil Medvedev, who reached the final at the 2019 US Open and looks to be a real threat to the top three in the years to come.

Two other players are likely in as well, barring a string of unlikely results. Both Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas appear to have done enough to make the ATP Finals, though they’re not quite mathematically in just yet.

Plenty of Events Remain in Race to London

After that, we have a bubble that involves at least nine players looking to fight for the final two spots. Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut currently sits in seventh, while Kei Nishikori is holding on to the eighth position by just 20 points over Matteo Berrettini. Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, and Gael Monfils are all less than 100 points out of the final spot, whoile Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwartzman and even Stan Wawrinka could still be in striking distance.


ATP Race to London Standings (As Of Sept. 16)

  1. Rafael Nadal (9,225 Points)
  2. Novak Djokovic (7,265)
  3. Roger Federer (5,510)
  4. Daniil Medvedev (4,805)
  5. Dominic Thiem (3,845)
  6. Stefanos Tsitsipas (3,160)
  7. Roberto Bautista Agut (2,350)
  8. Kei Nishikoi (2,180)
  9. Matteo Berrettini (2,160)
  10. Alexander Zverev (2,120)
  11. David Goffin (2,080)
  12. Gael Monfils (2,080)

There are still plenty of opportunities for players to jockey for position as well. While the Grand Slams may be over, there are tons of ATP 250 tournaments remaining, starting with the St. Petersburg Open, which is taking place this week. Even making the round of 16 in a 250 Series event is worth 20 points, which could be enough to shake up the standings.

There are also four ATP 500 events remaining on the schedule, which offer double the points for players. But the biggest gains could take place at the two remaining Masters events: the Shanghai Masters in early October, and the Paris Masters at the end of the month. With the winners of these events taking home 1,000 points, there’s still plenty of opportunity for a surprise player to work their way into the ATP Finals.

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