Whether you’re an avid tennis fan or casual observer of the game, the ATP Finals tournament provides a fresh format to understand - here’s how it works.
The ATP Finals is a select event, only open to the world’s top eight male players with the most ATP ranking points earned throughout the year, so earning a spot is a culmination of an entire season of hard work.
Points are earned by the players’ performance in a range of tournaments. Grand Slams (Wimbledon, French Open, US Open, Australian Open) provide up to 2,000 points while other events can offer between 250 and 1000.
The ATP Finals draw takes place shortly before the start of the tournament. The top seeded player is placed into Group A, while the second seeded player goes into Group B, meaning there’s a good chance of the world’s two best players meeting in the final.
Then the players seeded three and four are first put into a hat and then randomly drawn into each group. The same then happens for the fifth and sixth seeds, and then the seventh and eighth seeds. In the end, there will be two groups, both featuring four players.
Matches at the ATP Finals are just best-of-three sets, unlike Grand Slams, in which the men play best-of-five. All ATP sets, including the final set, can be decided by a 7-point tiebreaker (first to 7, must win by 2).
Both groups operate in a round-robin format, meaning each player will play every other player in their group once. As per ATP Finals rules, the two players with the greatest number of wins in their group will progress to the semi-finals.
Moving into the knockout phase, the top player from Group A will play the second-placed player from Group B, and vice-versa. The semi-finals winners will advance to the final, and the winner of the final will be declared the tournament victor.
As well as the ranking points you can earn in the ATP Finals, there is also a very lucrative prize pool. The fund for the eight competitors is a huge $9,000,000, making it one of the highest paying tournaments other than the grand slams.
|ROUND-ROBIN MATCH WIN||$215,000|
|SEMI-FINAL MATCH WIN||$657,000|
The Nitto ATP Finals is the ATP Tour’s season ending tournament. In November the tournament is played at the iconic o2 Arena in London, with a lucrative prize of 8.5 million US dollars up for grabs. The tournament is played over a week and is one of the many indoor hard-court tournaments on the tour. Each match is the best of three sets with every set decided by a tie break, even the final!
The finals feature the top 8 players on the official Emirates ATP tour rankings, which are decided by points earned throughout the year. The four grand slam winners usually feature with tournaments like Wimbledon and the US Open rewarding 2,000 ranking points.
The draw takes place once all 8 competitors are finalized and they’re split into two groups of four. Players ranked 1 and 2 will be drawn separately, with the followed 6 players paired together and drawn at random into each group.
Each group follows a round-robin format, with the four players facing each other once. Then the top 2 players progress to the semi-finals, ranked on matches won, percentage of sets won and then percentage of games won.
The winner of each group will face the runner up from the other and then the tournament follows a simple knockout format ‘til the winner is crowned on the final on the Sunday
The Champion can earn up to 1,500 ranking points if undefeated, with others still able to earn valuable points to move up the rankings before the end of the year.
The 2019 ATP Tour Finals capped a memorable year perfectly, with Stefanos Tsitsipas winning his first ATP title. The tournament saw many of the tour’s rising stars take on three of the modern greats, with the new blood ultimately coming out on top. Rafael Nadal battled injuries to make it to London and pulled off an astonishing comeback against Daniil Medvedev along the way. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic met again for the first time since their epic Wimbledon final in July 2019, with Federer winning in straight sets. The final saw Dominic Thiem, who knocked out former champ Alexander Zverev, take on Tsitsipas who incidentally saw off Federer on his way to the final. The two contested a brilliant final, with Thiem taking the first set, but Tsitsipas fought back to win in true ATP Finals style – in a tie break.
With matches only being 3 sets and the final set being decided by a tie break, the format will favour those who start fast and recover quickly. Look for players who have a strong tie break record, that might just be the edge to get them through the match.
There are plenty of hard court tournaments during the season, so see how the competitors have performed. The ability to control a point and deal with the faster, higher bounces will be a big benefit.
To add to the intensity of playing on a hard court, the ATP Finals are also competed indoors, and with a traditionally electric crowd at the O2, there will be little room for error. Who can deal with the pressure?
With the top 8 players competing from the ATP Tour, their record against each other has to count for something, right? With all the grand slams out the way, look at how the players have performed when playing the best, especially if betting on the final.
Despite Stefanos Tsitsipas breaking the mould in 2019, experience most definitely helps at the ATP Finals. If Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic are playing, regardless of form, it’s worth remembering they have collectively won 11 titles.