ATP Finals 2020: Schedule, groups, format and changes amid the coronavirus pandemic

atp-finals-2020:-schedule,-groups,-format-and-changes-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic

The men’s tennis season once again culminates with the ATP Finals in London. This is the 50th Anniversary of the ATP Finals, which was first played in 1970 in Tokyo, where Stan Smith triumphed. It is the tournament’s 12th and final edition in London. Next year, it moves to Turin, Italy. As always, the finest singles and doubles players will vie for the trophy in a round-robin format followed by the semi-finals and final.

Who are playing?

Eight singles players at this year’s ATP Finals are World No 1 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, French Open champion Rafael Nadal, US Open champion Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman. This year qualification is based on the ATP Rankings instead of ‘Race to London’ ranking due to a coronavirus-impacted season.

Tsitsipas comes in as the defending champion after beating Thiem in the final last year. A leg injury could curtail his showing this year. Thiem also struggled physically at the Vienna Open to lose in the quarters against Rublev.

Djokovic, the World No 1, is looking to win a record-tying sixth ATP Finals and first time since 2015. The Serb holds a 39-3 record this season and has qualified for the season finale 13 times. He triumphed at the event in 2008 and 2012-15.

Nadal, who has qualified for the ATP Finals for the 16th consecutive year, has surprisingly never won the indoor hardcourt event. The Spaniard has a 25-5 record this year with two titles, and has made this tournament every season since 2005.

The doubles field comprises of John Peers and Michael Venus, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin edged Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski to take the final spot by reaching the final in Sofia. The draw is yet to made with teams to be separated into Group Bob Bryan and Group Mike Bryan.

Format

The eight singles players are divided into two four-player groups: Group Tokyo 1970 and Group London 2020. Each player faces the other group member once and the top two from each group advance to the semi-finals.

Standings are decided by the number of wins. If there is a tie, then the player which has won the greater number of matches played, followed by head-to-head. If three players are tied with one win each, then the player who has played the least matches is automatically eliminated. The tie-break from the other two is broken on head-to-head record. If that fails, too, then it comes down to the highest percentage of sets won or games won. (ATP World Tour explain it in detail)

Groups


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Group Tokyo 1970: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman

Group London 2020: Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev

Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov are the first and second alternates in the singles field.

“If you look at this draw, you look at Medvedev and Zverev, who just played in the finals against each other in Paris last week, they obviously are playing quite well. They’re going to be pushing Novak in that group,” said 1970 ATP Finals champion Smith during the draw broadcast. “But on the other side, Rublev has really been hot overall for the year, it’s unbelievable. Tsitsipas is the defending champion and Thiem is the US Open champion, so Rafa’s got his hands full with those three guys.”

Schedule

15 November

Doubles TBD

Thiem vs Tsitsipas

Doubles TBD

Nadal vs Rublev

16 November

Doubles TBD

Djokovic vs Schwartzman

Doubles TBD

Medvedev vs Zverev

Group stages: 15 November – 20 November

Semi-finals: 21 November

Doubles final: Sunday, 22 November at 3:30pm local/9 PM IST

Singles final: Sunday, 22 November not before 6:00pm local/11.30 PM IST

Afternoon session: doubles at 12:00pm (5.30 PM IST), singles not before 2:00pm (7.30 PM IST)

Evening session: doubles not before 6:00pm (11.30 PM IST), singles not before 8:00pm (1.30 AM IST)

Rest of the schedule will be finalised in due course.

How is the tournament being played?

The ATP Finals is being played in London which has entered into another lockdown following rising coronavirus cases. It will be played behind closed doors and players will follow a strict bubble environment.

The players will be tested at the start of the tournament. They will not be tested again over the course of the week unless they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. If any player breaches the bubble protocols, they will be disqualified from the tournament.

Like the Western & Southern Open and outside courts of US Open, there will be no line judges at the tournament. All decisions will be taken by HawkEye technology.

London’s legacy for ATP Finals


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The first time London hosted this run of ATP Finals, the 2009 field comprised of: Roger Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco.

London’s 12-year run is the second-longest for an ATP Finals with New York topping from 1977-89. In this period, ATP Finals has grown in stature with tickets selling out and players being impressed by the venue, the organisation and the support.

The tournament has gone by the script in the early years but has seen surprise winners recently. Grigor Dimitrov, Zverev and Tsitsipas have won the last three events. It won’t be a surprise if debutant Schwartzman wins it this time.

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