David Ferrer tightens grip on ATP World Tour Finals: Gasquet, Tsonga in reserve
David Ferrer tightens his grip on a qualification spot for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London
With three tournaments reaching their conclusion on the same Sunday afternoon, there were big points being won and lost in Vienna, Moscow and Stockholm.
The most valuable, though, belonged to David Ferrer, the top seed at the ATP500 event in Austria. He has battled since the summer to claim a place at the World Tour Finals for the sixth consecutive year, a battle that forced him to regain his best fighting form after playing just one match between the French Open and US Open as he nursed an injury.
And with characteristic fighting spirit, he took on autumn season by winning in Kuala Lumpur, losing to champion Novak Djokovic in the semis in Beijing, and bouncing back from a shock first-round exit in Shanghai to win on the indoor courts of Vienna.
From No8 in the Race, he now draws level with Kei Nishikori in seventh, and has the chance to steal a march on the Japanese star if he puts in another good run at his home town Valencia event this week. However, in his usual modest way, he refused to count his chickens just yet: “It’s been an unbelievable season, winning five titles and it’s great to be playing well. I am in a good position for London, but I have yet to qualify. Certainly, today I took a big step.”
Nishikori, in contrast, has failed to build on his strong early months since losing in the first round of the US Open and misses this week’s Swiss Indoors 500 tournament in Basel with injury.
Even so, Nishikori and Ferrer lead the chasing pack by a substantial margin that will be increasingly hard to close. No10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in particular, who is not in action this week, cannot close the gap even with a win at his home Masters after he made a second-round exit in Vienna.
Richard Gasquet, however, who had one of the best Grand Slam seasons of his career with a semi run at Wimbledon and the quarters at the US Open, reached the semis in Stockholm this weekend and will continue the pursuit of his third qualification for the World Tour Finals in Basel and then Paris, as a reserve if nothing else.
However, three more men continue to chase down a reserve spot in Basel: Kevin Anderson—who has the tough challenge of fast-rising talent Borna Coric in the first round—followed by John Isner—also under pressure against Vienna semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis in his opener—and Marin Cilic, who arrives direct from victory in Moscow.
The tall Croat’s stamina, after playing four tournaments since reaching the semis of the US Open, will be sorely tested should he make it to Basel quarters. There he is likely to meet Rafael Nadal, followed by Stan Wawrinka or Gasquet in the semis and possibly Roger Federer should he reach the final.
Bearing in mind that Anderson, Isner and Cilic would also need big results at the Paris Masters, their challenges looks set to fall just short.
The other title-winner this weekend, in Stockholm is Tomas Berdych, who now rests up before Paris and London. The win lifts him back into fifth place in the Race, and proves he is finding his indoor form at just the right time.
W/b 26 October
W/b 2 November
W/b 15 November
World Tour Finals, London
1 Novak Djokovic, 14,285 (Paris)
2 Andy Murray, 7,870 (Paris)
3 Roger Federer, 6,750 (Basel, Paris)
4 Stan Wawrinka, 6,140 (Basel, Paris)
5 Tomas Berdych, 4,440 (Paris)
6 Rafael Nadal, 4,330 (Basel, Paris)
Next in line, including reserve spots
7 Kei Nishikori, 3,945 (Paris)
7 David Ferrer, 3,945 (Valencia, Paris)
9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 2,545 (Paris)
10 Richard Gasquet, 2,535 (Basel, Paris)
11 Marin Cilic, 2,395 (Basel, Paris)
12 Kevin Anderson, 2,385 (Basel, Paris)
12 John Isner, 2,315 (Basel, Paris)