10:17 AM GMT October 01, 2018
With just five weeks to go in the regular ATP World Tour season, five singles spots still remain up for grabs at the Nitto ATP Finals, the prestigious finale to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer* have already clinched their berths, but this week Juan Martin del Potro could qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2013.
Del Potro, who has played at the Nitto ATP Finals on four previous occasions (2009-10, 2012-13), will secure his spot by reaching this week’s China Open final in Beijing, where fellow contenders in the ATP Race To London, Alexander Zverev (fifth place) and Fabio Fognini (11th place), compete. On his season finale debut in 2009, the first year it was held at The O2 in London, Del Potro finished as runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko.
At this week’s second ATP World Tour 500 tournament, the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018, sixth-placed Marin Cilic, eighth-placed Kevin Anderson and 10th-placed Kei Nishikori attempt to add valuable points in Tokyo. Cilic is bidding to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth straight year, while two-time Tokyo champion Nishikori competed in London from 2014-2016. Anderson, who is currently in the final automatic qualification berth, is hoping to clinch his first participation.
The maths is simple this week. For Del Potro (4,910 points), Zverev (4,365), Cilic (3,815) and Anderson (3,450) any points that they accrue this week in Beijing or Tokyo will be added directly to their current ATP Race To London tallies and improve their chances of clinching a berth at the Nitto ATP Finals. Zverev, 21, is aiming to compete in London for the second consecutive year.
In the case of 11th-placed Fognini (2,045), who lost to Bernard Tomic in the Chengdu Open final on Sunday, the Italian will need to reach the Beijing semi-finals (with 180 points on offer) this week in order to start to add points. Fognini, after one of the best seasons of his career, is currently 1,405 points behind Anderson.
*The top seven players in the ATP Race To London on Monday, 5 November (the day after the final tournament of the regular season in Paris) 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.