Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In London
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
1) Season Finale: The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals marks the 49th edition of the year-end championships and 10th at The O2 in London. New World No. 1 Novak Djokovic heads Group Guga Kuerten and Roger Federer leads Group Lleyton Hewitt. Since Kuerten captured the 2000 title and Hewitt swept the next two, Djokovic and Federer have combined to win 11 of the 15 year-end championships.
2) Dream Finish: Djokovic hopes to tie Federer’s Nitto ATP Finals record by winning his sixth title. The year-end No. 1 and Comeback Player of the Year entered Wimbledon in July with a ranking of No. 21 and no titles in 52 weeks. Djokovic returns to London four months later as the first player in ATP Rankings history to rise from outside of the Top 20 to year-end No. 1 in the same season.
3) Eye on 100: While Djokovic seeks a storybook end to his season, Federer hopes to finish 2018 with the 100th tour-level title of his career. Federer has won more titles in London than any other city with a record eight Wimbledon championships and triumphs at The O2 in 2010 and 2011. The 37-year-old Swiss also won year-end championships at Houston in 2003 and 2004 and at Shanghai in 2006 and 2007.
4) Zverev Returns: For the second straight year, Alexander Zverev has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. The 21-year-old German leads all players with 54 victories in 2018, including title wins at all three levels of the ATP World Tour. Zverev won his third career ATP Masters 1000 title at Madrid and defended titles at both Washington (ATP World Tour 500) and Munich (ATP World Tour 250).
5) First-Timers Club: At 6'10" and 6'8" respectively, John Isner, aged 33, and Kevin Anderson, aged 32, are the tallest players ever to compete at the Nitto ATP Finals and the oldest first-time qualifiers since 1972. The former college rivals each reached career-high rankings on 16 July following Anderson’s six-hour, 36-minute semi-final win over Isner at Wimbledon. Anderson rose to No. 5 and Isner reached No. 8.
6) Cilic’s Challenge: World No. 7 Marin Cilic has won 223 matches since 2014, qualifying four times in five years for the Nitto ATP Finals. But only one of the Croat’s victories has come at The O2. Already eliminated from semi-final contention, Cilic beat Kei Nishikori in a 2016 round-robin match.
7) Special Kei: Like Cilic, Nishikori will be competing at the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth time in five years. The two-time semi-finalist started this season on the ATP Challenger Tour and is finishing it in style. Nishikori is 19-6 since the US Open with two final, two semi-final and two quarter-final appearances.
8) Mr. Consistency: Dominic Thiem leads all players by reaching the quarter-finals or better at 14 tournaments in 2018. The three-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifier has won three titles this year, advanced to his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and appeared in his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in Madrid.
9) No. 1 Doubles Player: The winners of all four Grand Slam doubles titles this season are in Group Knowles/Nestor, including Wimbledon and US Open champions Mike Bryan and Jack Sock. Aged 40, Bryan is the oldest World No. 1 doubles player in history and has clinched the year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Ranking.
10) No. 1 Doubles Team: Oliver Marach, 38, is the oldest member of a year-end No. 1 doubles team since 1984. Mate Pavic, 25, is the youngest since 1995. Marach is the first Austrian and Pavic is the first Croatian to finish No. 1 in any ATP Rankings discipline (singles, doubles player, doubles team).