10:54 AM GMT September 05, 2019
At the tail end of an unpredictable US Open, where seven of the top 10 seeds lost prior to the quarter-finals, the battle for seventh and eighth positions at the Nitto ATP Finals is wide open.
With a little over two months to go until the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev have already clinched their berths. Fifth and sixth-placed Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas are in strong positions to qualify, but it is the quest for the final two spots that is eye-catching.
Early losses in the Big Apple for London contenders Thiem, Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut (all first round), and a fourth-round exit for defending champion Alexander Zverev that boosted his chances, have dramatically shaken up the 2019 Race, paving the way for a fascinating culmination to the 2019 ATP Tour season.
Incredibly, four players — Matteo Berrettini (2,160 points), defending champion Alexander Zverev (2,120), David Goffin (2,080) and Gael Monfils (2,080) — are all within 100 points of eighth-placed Kei Nishikori (2,180), who is just 170 points behind Roberto Bautista Agut in seventh position (2,350).
Berrettini and Grigor Dimitrov are preparing to compete in the US Open semi-finals on Friday, against Nadal and Medvedev respectively, and both can continue to soar up the Race standings. If one of them lifted their first major championship title on Sunday at Flushing Meadows, then they would automatically qualify for London under the Grand Slam rule*.
Berrettini, a winner of two ATP Tour titles this year, started the final major championship of the year in 17th position in the Race, and has since soared up to ninth place on 2,160 points. Should he beat Nadal on Friday, the Italian would jump two further places to seventh with 2,640 points.
Meanwhile Dimitrov, who won the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals title, started last week in 75th position and is now in 25th place, with the possibility of moving up to 15th on 1,777 points with a final appearance in New York City.
While Medvedev is London-bound for the first time, 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas, Berrettini and Bautista Agut are all pushing hard to be new faces under the lights at The O2 in south-east London.
Additionally, the battle for year-end No. 1 has also come under the spotlight with Djokovic’s fourth-round loss at the US Open. Nadal continues to extend his lead over the Serbian in the 2019 ATP Race To London. Nadal led Djokovic (7,265) by 140 points coming into the tournament, but the Spaniard has since pushed the gap to 680 points. Should Nadal win his fourth US Open crown on Sunday, he would have 9,225 points – 1,960 points ahead of Djokovic - and a clearer path to adding to his 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017 year-end No. 1 finishes.
*The top seven players in the ATP Race To London on Monday, 4 November 2019 (the day after the final tournament of the regular season, the Rolex Paris Masters) qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. If there is one current-year Grand Slam champion positioned between eighth and 20th in the Race, he qualifies in eighth place. If there are two current-year Grand Slam champions positioned between eighth and 20th, the highest-ranked of those players becomes the eighth and final qualifier; the lower-ranked Grand Slam champion will serve as the alternate. If there are no current-year Grand Slam champions positioned between eighth and 20th, then the player in eighth place in the Race will claim the eighth and final berth.