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Which Tennis Players Will Qualify for the 2018 ATP Finals in London?
The end of the year is near, and all of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments are complete. That doesn’t mean there aren’t significant competitions left on the calendar, though. One particular event certainly excites all tennis fans out there.
The ATP Finals that take place in 02 Arena in London provide an exciting finish to the tennis season. The best eight players, according to the ATP rankings, face each other in one final battle. If you exclude the Grand Slam events, this is probably the most popular tennis tournament in the world.
In 2017, Grigor Dimitrov was the happy winner, and many predicted a fascinating 2018 for the Bulgarian, but he failed to live up to the expectations. The big question is which player will be the one to lift the trophy this year.
Of course, we have to see who qualifies first, as the tournament starts on November 11th, and there are a couple of spots left.
The top 5 players in the ATP rankings right now are Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer, and Alexander Zverev.
Everyone on the list, except for Federer, has accumulated enough points to stay in the first 8 whatever happens and play in London. Federer is 3rd right now, but the Swiss maestro has booked his place for another reason.
There is a special rule that grants a spot for every Grand Slam winner that is placed anywhere between 8th and 20th. Since Federer won the Australian Open, he will definitely take part in the ATP Finals, even if he is not in the top 8 when the time comes.
Unfortunately for Juan Martin del Potro, he will probably miss the ATP Finals. The reason is another injury, this time to his right knee, that happened just recently. According to the information we have so far, the season is over for the big Argentinian.
This means there are four spots left and a couple of players that will be hoping to get them by gaining enough points in the few weeks prior to the ATP Finals. In this post, I will go through each player that has a chance and share my predictions on who will make it in the end.
- Current ATP Rankings: 6th
- Points: 3825
Marin Cilic looked set to win a place in the ATP Finals in London up to the start of this month.
The Croatian player had to play in Japan and China, where he reached the semifinals last year. A decent performance in any of those tournaments would’ve been enough to seal the deal.And yet, Cilic was beaten in the first round of both competitions and lost a solid number of points.
The last two tournaments in which he has to defend points are in Basel and in Paris. If Cilic can avoid early exits, he should easily book a place in London.
The problem is that the Croatian is clearly out of shape. Even if he manages to qualify for the ATP Finals, I don’t think he will be able to do something special there, based on his performance in October.
Final Verdict – Cilic Will Make It (Barely)
- Current ATP Rankings: 7th
- Points: 3720
You rarely see players past 30 achieve their best season. Well, Kevin Anderson is one of the few exceptions.
The South African is enjoying a fascinating year. He reached the Wimbledon finals and is in a strong position to win a spot in ATP London.
Anderson could book his place in the tournament in Vienna. He was defeated in the first round last year, so he has the potential to win a solid number of points that will increase his lead in front of the players who are in the chase.
Even if he doesn’t make it, Anderson has a second chance in Paris. He lost in his opening game there in 2017, so he could only increase his points tally.
I believe that the South African will push hard and take advantage of at least one of the two opportunities ahead.
Final Verdict – Anderson Will Make It
- Current ATP Rankings: 8th
- Points: 3535
Next in line is Dominic Thiem. Many see the Austrian play as a predominantly clay court specialist, but he has proven that he has the potential to be a tough challenge on hard courts as well.
Thiem did reach the ATP finals in 2017 and will be hoping for more of the same this year.
Similarly to Cilic, he had a tough start in the month of October, but that didn’t cost him much. The main reason is that his performance was similar during the same month of 2017, so Thiem doesn’t have to defend too many points.
The same applies to the events in Vienna and Paris.
The Austrian was only able to reach the second round in each last year. As a result, he will most likely gain points for the ATP rankings, and his chances of making it are solid.
Even if Thiem fails to accumulate many points until the ATP Finals, the injury of Del Potro improves his chances.
Final Verdict – Thiem Will Make It
- Current ATP Rankings: 9th
- Points: 3000
The upward trajectory of Nishikori was interrupted by a series of wrist injuries at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. It looked impossible for him to reach the ATP Finals a couple of months ago, but since returning to fitness, he is pushing hard for a place.
The misfortunes of Del Potro and the fact that Nishikori has no points to defend from 2017 improve his chances dramatically. A strong performance in one of the remaining tournaments before the 2018 finals in London could be enough for the Japanese player.
If you consider the momentum he’s gained, I believe that Nishikori will be the last man to qualify for the closing tournament in the end.
Final Verdict – Nishikori Will Make It (Barely)
- Current ATP Rankings: 10th
- Points: 2930
On the surface, John Isner is only 70 points behind Nishikori, and he has a solid chance of overcoming the Japanese for a place in London.
However, Isner will have to defend a semi-final from last year’s ATP Paris, which could be a problem.
The American will potentially earn points in Stockholm, where he starts as the top seed, but he will have to match his performance from Paris 2017 to have a chance.
Even then, a strong run from Nishikori would be enough, while the rest of the field seems to have an edge that’s impossible to overcome right now.
Final Verdict – Isner Won’t Make It
The Rest of the Bunch
In theory, there are two other players who have a chance to qualify for the 2018 ATP Finals in London.
One of them Borna Coric, and the young Croatian is certainly a future star. No one expected such rapid progress, but he reached a Masters 1000 final and is pushing for a place in London.
Still, Coric needs a miracle to win a spot in the ATP Finals. The main reason is the large points advantage of the players in front and the fact that Coric will have to catch at least two of them.
The situation of Fabio Fognini is similar. The Italian won a couple of tournaments this year, which gives him a shot. As Fognini still has to play in Stockholm and Paris, he COULD make it.
Once again, though, too many factors are out of his control. I don’t expect him to be in London.
If there are no huge surprises or injuries, I expect to see Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori, and Dominic Thiem join Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, and Zverev in the 2018 ATP Finals in London.
Once we have the full list of participants, I will also take a look at the winner odds and share my predictions for the tournament.