On Sunday, the last tournament of the season on the ATP circuit opens in Turin. And for this prestigious event, the stakes are high. Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas are in the running to take the world number one spot from the absent Carlos Alcaraz. As for Novak Djokovic, he can still make history.
So we have ranked the eight singles players and put them into order of how likely they are to lift the trophy at the end of the tournament. Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are among those vying for top spot.
You’ve seen the Nitto ATP Finals seedings, but since when do they actually count for anything in tennis, right?
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is the top-ranked player for the season-ending tournament in Turin, which starts on November 13, following the withdrawal of world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz due to injury. Taylor Fritz gets in as a replacement for Alcaraz, having finished ninth in the Race to Turin standings, and two players ranked outside the top four – Novak Djokovic and Felix Auger-Aliassime – enter the tournament in sparkling form.
So with a few question marks and fitness concerns, how should the eight singles player at the ATP Finals be ranked?
1. NOVAK DJOKOVIC
There has been almost no stopping Novak Djokovic over the last two months.
After the slight controversy surrounding his initial qualification for the ATP Finals – which was via his Wimbledon win, even though others did not get any ranking points from the Grand Slam – in the end it didn’t matter as his post-Laver Cup form was so good that he ended up in the top eight. And that was without playing two of the four Grand Slams and four Masters 1000 tournaments in 2022.
Djokovic has won 13 of his last 14 matches and even after losing to Holger Rune in the final of the Paris Masters was not too dismayed.
“The level of tennis that I’m playing is high, and I like my chances [in Turin]…I feel very good on the court. I think I’m playing very, very good tennis.”
Djokovic should be the one to beat.
2. STEFANOS TSITSIPAS
With Felix Auger-Aliassime, Djokovic and Holger Rune taking most of the headlines on the ATP Tour since the US Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ solid form has gone under the radar.
The world No. 3 hasn’t won a title but he has made two finals and pushed Djokovic very close in the Paris Masters semis. A major breakthrough has still eluded Tsitsipas this season, but when his serve and forehand is firing he is a top player, especially indoors, where he looks comfortable.
Tsitsipas won the ATP Finals in 2019 and could be a contender again, although he’s very closely followed in this list by Auger-Aliassime…
3. FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME
The indoor hard swing has been a very good one for Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Three successive tournament wins were followed by a semi-final run at the Paris Masters as the 22-year-old racked up a 16-match winning streak.
Is he slightly too high in this list given it will be his ATP Finals debut? Perhaps, but Auger-Aliassime has looked excellent over the last few months. His serve has been firing and his confidence has clearly been elevated by some big results.
4. DANIIL MEDVEDEV
It’s tough to get a gauge on where Daniil Medvedev is right now.
The former world No. 1 looked in good touch on his way to winning the Vienna Open only to then lose to Alex de Minaur in his first match in Paris. It was as much a surprise result as it was a frustrating one for Medvedev, who smashed his racquet afterwards and then admitted his “attitude was not good enough”.
Medvedev has a huge game and heading into 2023 should be considered among the contenders to challenge for Grand Slam titles.
Yet his form over the second half of the season has not been as consistent as might have been expected. He could win the ATP Finals if he plays well but it’s also not unthinkable that he could flame out in the group stage.
5. RAFAEL NADAL
Rafael Nadal has not won the ATP Finals in 10 previous attempts and it’s hard to imagine he has ever been less fancied to break his duck.
Nadal has played just one singles match since the US Open, after which he pretty much wrote off his chances of success in Turin.
“I mean, for me it’s difficult to imagine now arriving in good enough shape to win a tournament like this one that I didn’t win during my whole tennis career.”
Nadal did not play anywhere his best in defeat to Tommy Paul in Paris and looked tired as the match went to a third set. How much better will he be at the ATP Finals?
Perhaps some extra practice time will be of benefit, plus his experience at the tournament should count for something. But on his least successful surface and with such little competitive action over the last few months it’s hard to see Nadal going far.
6. ANDREY RUBLEV
World No. 7 Andrey Rublev has qualified for the ATP Finals for the third year in a row but it’s difficult to muster too much confidence that he is going to make it out of the group stage for the first time.
Rublev is a very talented player who has won four titles this season, as many as Djokovic, Nadal and Auger-Aliassime. Yet in the biggest events he has largely continued to come up just short.
If Tsitsipas is a slight notch below Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz, then Rublev is just a slight notch further back. He heads to Turin following straight-set losses to Rune and Grigor Dimitrov to round out the regular season.
7. TAYLOR FRITZ
Taylor Fritz wasn’t in, and then, after Alcaraz’s injury withdrawal, he was.
It’s a fitting reward for a solid season for the American that has seen him win three titles, make the Wimbledon quarter-finals, where he probably should have beaten an injured Nadal, and break the top 10.
But Fritz didn’t finish the year in the strongest fashion, losing early in Vienna and Paris when he was looking to secure a top-eight spot in the Race to Turin standings. Perhaps a couple of weeks off will be just what was needed after he tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, but he’s still an underdog to make it out of the group stage.
8. CASPER RUUD
It’s a shame for Casper Ruud that a very positive and successful season looks likely to end on a negative note.
Ruud has greatly surpassed expectations in 2022 by making two Grand Slam finals and making a Masters hard-court final. He also hit No. 2 in the world rankings following the US Open.
But his form over the last few months has dipped, in part due to a schedule that he says was too packed, and because of the change of surface.
“I probably just have to accept that the indoor season will always be a bit challenging for me. There, I am probably most vulnerable against players who play flat and can knock me off the court on a good day.”
Ruud, who only has only two wins since the Laver Cup, might struggle in Turin.
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