ATP World Tour Finals 2016: Battleground for two Murrays’ No1 hopes, plus more facts and figures
The season-finale of the ATP World Tour takes place at The O2 in London from Sunday, and here is everything you need to know
The O2 will be the battleground not only for the No1 ranking between old adversaries Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, but also for Murray’s brother Jamie in the coming week.
The elder Murray has qualified for the World Tour Finals doubles competition for the second year in a row, but for the first time with current partner Bruno Soares. For theirs is a partnership that flourished immediately.
After two Grand Slam final finishes last year with John Peers, Murray struck gold with Soares in Australia and they won again at the US Open. Ahead of the clay season, the duo rose to No1 in the rankings, only for the burgeoning French pairing of 34-year-old Nicolas Mahut and 25-year-old Pierre-Hugues Herbert to supplant them. Now the two teams contest both the individual No1 ranking and the team No1 ranking.
The permutations are, as always in the round-robin format, many and complex, but Mahut at least knows that, if he wins just one match in London, he will be top of the individual doubles rankings—the first Frenchman to do so.
Mahut and Herbert are also favourites to top the doubles rankings, which would make them the first French team to finish at No1.
However, it is still possible for Murray and Soares to steal the team No1, and if both Jamie and Andy Murray triumph, it would be the first time that brothers have finished at No1 in singles and doubles in the same year.
But the scale of the younger Murray’s task in retaining the No1 singles spot is not insignificant: His round-robin opponents represent four Grand Slam titles and one runner-up between them, and their recent form is written all over their head-to-heads.
Murray is 9-7 against Stan Wawrinka, but won just one of their last four matches. He is 11-3 over Marin Cilic, though lost their last meeting in the Cincinnati final. Against Kei Nishikori, Murray is 7-2, but also lost his last meeting, a dramatic five-set quarter-final at the US Open.
Meanwhile, five-time champion Djokovic, is unbeaten in London since winning in 2012. The formidable Serb has two tournament debutants in his group, No6 Gael Monfils and No8 Dominic Thiem, along with Milos Raonic, whose form is uncertain after picking up a thigh injury at the Paris Masters. Against possible substitute David Goffin, Djokovic also has a flawless record.
If the defending champion wins at least two round-robin matches and goes on to win the title, he can reclaim the No1. If Murray wins the title, irrespective of how many round-robin matches he wins, he will stay at the top.
But Soares summed it up for all of them: “I think being No1 would come with a good result, and right now it doesn’t really depend on just us. So we have got to focus on our own thing.”
So what else is at stake during what Jamie Murray called “the biggest tournament we have on the ATP tour”?
Did you know…?
· Djokovic is aiming to end the year at No1 for the third year in a row, the fifth time in six years.
· Djokovic is the only player in the singles field who has reached the final before, and is 18-1 at the O2 over the past four years: His only loss was to Roger Federer in the round-robin last year.
· Andy Murray has a 27-12 combined record over his round-robin opponents, Djokovic a 23-0 record.
· Djokovic is attempting to match Federer’s record six titles at the tournament. Last year, the Serb became the first man to win four in a row.
· This is the first time since 1974 that the year-end singles championship features eight players from eight different countries.
· Monfils is only the sixth player to make his tournament debut aged over 30, and the first since 1972.
· The doubles field contains five debut pairings, but the Bryan brothers have qualified 15 times and won the title four times.
Six of the eight coaches this week have played in the tournament themselves:
· Ivan Lendl (Murray), champion five times
· Boris Becker (Djokovic), champion three times
· Michael Chang (Nishikori), runner up once
· Carlos Moya (Raonic), runner up once
· Jonas Bjorkman (Cilic), semifinal once
· Magnus Norman (Wawrinka), round robin once
World Tour Finals records
· Most titles: Federer, six
· Most finals: Federer, 10
· Most match-wins: Federer, 52-12
· Best winning percentage: Ilie Nastase, 0.88 (22.3)
· Most games in three-set match: 41 between Guillermo Vilas and Onny Parun
· Fewest games in three-set match: Federer beat Gaston Gaudio, 6-0, 6-0
· Most years qualified: Andre Agassi and Federer, 14
· Most doubles titles: Peter Fleming and John McEnroe, 7
Year’s best for Murray
Andy Murray admitted ahead of this tournament that 2016 has been the best season of his career. He arrives in London on a 19-match winning streak, four straight titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris. As a result, he has:
· Reached a career-high ranking and almost $11million in prize money
· Has his most match wins in a season, 73, and most Grand Slam match wins, 23.
· He has won a season-best eight titles and made 12 finals.
Group John McEnroe
· 1 Andy Murray: Three semi finishes in seven WTF appearances; eight titles in 2016 including one Major and three Masters, plus Olympic gold; 73-9 win-loss
· 3 Stan Wawrinka: Three semi finishes in all three WTF appearances; four titles in 2016 including one Major; 45-16 win-loss
· 5 Kei Nishikori: One semi finishes in two WTF appearances; one title plus two Masters finals in 2016; 57-18 win-loss
· 7 Marin Cilic: One RR finish in only previous WTF appearance; two titles in 2016 including one Masters; 47-21 win-loss
Group B, Ivan Lendl
· 2 Novak Djokovic: Five-time and defending WTF champion; seven titles in 2016, including two Majors and four Masters; 61-8 win-loss
· 4 Milos Raonic: Lost in RR phase in only previous WTF appearance; one title in 2016 plus finals of Wimbledon and Indian Wells; 50-15 win-loss
· 6 Gael Monfils: Debut at WTFs; one title in 2016 plus one Masters final; 44-15 win-loss
· 8 Dominic Thiem: Debut at WTFs; four titles from six finals in 2016; 57-22 win-loss
David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut
· 1 Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut
· 4 Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez
· 5 Henri Kontinen/John Peers
· 7 Raven Klaasen/Rajeev Ram
· 2 Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares
· 3 Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan
· 6 Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo
· 8 Treat Huey/Max Mirnyi