The yearend ATP World Tour finals is a sought after event. It is not a normal tournament but features the world’s top eight players.
They are divided into two group of four each. Out of the eight, four proceed for the semifinals and one finally emerges as the Champion.
The event was first known as Masters Grand Prix and started in 1970 with the first winner being Stan Smith. The event remained the same for as many as 20 years until 1990. Illustrious winners were Ilie Nastase (four times), John McEnroe (three), Ivan Lendl (five times) and Bjorn Borg (two).
From 1990 to 1999 the event was known as the ATP Tour World Championships and the event winners were Sampras ( five times), Becker (twice), and Agassi, Stich and Alex Corretza once each.
From 2000 to 2008 It was known as the Tennis Masters Cup, and while Roger Federer won it four times, Lleyton Hewitt won it twice and Novak Djokovic, David Nalbandian and Gustavo Kuerten won it once each. Thereafter from 2009 it is known as the ATP World tour Finals and of the seven events so far, there are only three winners, Djokovic four times, Federer two times and a surprise winner in Niko Davydenko in 2009.
No surprises that on checking the stats for the event that Federer has the record for maximum entries, as many as 14, with ten finals entries. Next were Andre Agassi (13), Lendl (12) and Boris Becker, Jim Connors and Pete Sampras (11 each).
Federer has won the event six times, the maximum for any player. Next is Djokovic, Lendl and Sampras with five wins each. A big surprise is that 14 time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal has not won it once, and this is one of the few, if not only blemishes of his glittering career.
Barclays has confirmed that after 2016 they will not continue as sponsors, and the event will have to find a new commercial partner. I do not foresee that as a major crisis as the event is much sought after, both by players and spectators, including the valuable TV audience.
This year, both Federer and Nadal are not there which is a big blow to the event. Federer of course is ranked 16th and in any case was not qualifying. However Nadal, was very much there even though he had the worst year of his career. He however opted out to concentrate on 2017 and Dom Thiem got lucky.
The final line up is as follows: Andy Murray, Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Ken Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils, Thiem and Marin Cilic.
If one looks at the eight, only Djokovic has won it earlier. However now suddenly, after seeming to be invincible for almost two years he has suddenly appeared uninterested on court and has lost three tournaments in a row. One of them was to Cilic, and it is pertinent that he had as many as 14 consecutive wins over the big server without a single loss.
Murray seems to be in the form of his life, and has captured the world number one ranking.
The other six contenders make for an interesting combination. Any one of them can create mini upsets but apart from Wawrinka I have my doubts as to whether they can go on to win the tournament.
So, let the tournament begin. We will soon see if we have a new first time winner in any of the seven apart from Djokovic. Or will it be Djokovic who will shrug off his recent indifferent performances to lift his sixth crown?