Salisbury eyes London triumph
• 7 MINUTE READ
The Nitto ATP Finals gets under way at The O2 for the last time this week concluding one of the most eventful seasons in the history of tennis.
In what is the event’s 50th anniversary, the finals will welcome the top-eight ranked men’s singles, and doubles pairs, as they go head-to-head behind closed doors to be named champion.
The season-ending tournament will follow a round-robin format with players split into one of two groups, with the top performers progressing to the semi-finals and then the final on Sunday 22 November.
With household favourites Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and last year’s champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas returning to London, alongside local hero Joe Salisbury in the doubles, this year’s tournament is sure to have plenty of fireworks along the way.
Which Brits are playing?
Joe Salisbury, the 2020 Australian Open men’s doubles champion, will be flying the flag for Great Britain at the finals again this year.
After Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski narrowly missed out in the race to London this week, hopes of a British champion rest on the shoulders of 28-year-old Salisbury, who returns to The O2 for the second time in his career.
Having established a formidable partnership with American partner Rajeev Ram in 2019, the two have been one of the dominant forces in men’s doubles this term. They finished the season as the No.2 doubles pair in the world and secured an automatic place in this year’s Nitto ATP Finals after winning their first Grand Slam title in Australia back in January.
The duo will be looking to build on their semi-final and quarter-final runs at the US Open and Roland Garros respectively and finish the season as champions.
In a recent interview with BBC Sport, Salisbury acknowledged that making the finals in 2019 was a great achievement but this year they want to go a step further.
“Last year I think there was a little bit of pressure as the only Brit," said Salisbury.
"I think this year's different - there was a bit of a feeling that it was great to have qualified last year but this time we want to win."
Salisbury and Ram will lead the Mike Bryan group and will begin their campaign in the Sunday evening session, where they will face eighth seeds, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. Kubot and Melo knocked the British and American air out of the tournament in the grop stages last year and they will be hoping to get revenge on their opponents.
This year’s singles draw is one of the most intriguing in recent years. With Roger Federer absent, World No.1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal come in as the obvious favourites. Djokovic has had brilliant success in London, winning four back-to-back titles between 2012 and 2015; meanwhile Nadal will be gunning for the first Nitto ATP Finals trophy in his career.
Joining Djokovic in Group Tokyo 1970 will be fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, fifth seed Alexander Zverev and eighth seed Diego Schwartzman. Medvedev arrives in the English capital in fine form after winning the ATP Tour Masters title in Paris last week, where he beat Zverev – who is also in his group in London – in the final. Schwartzman makes his finals debut this year after a very impressive season and will fancy his chances to cause an upset in the early encounters.
Group London 2020 promises to be full of thrills as Nadal has been drawn with third seed and US Open winner, Dominic Thiem, sixth seed and reigning champion Tsitsipas and seventh seed Andrey Rublev. Thiem and Tsitsipas come into the tournament with slight injury concerns, but last year’s finalists have enjoyed successful 2020 seasons, especially the Austrian, and will want to sign off in London with a winning campaign.
No player in 2020 has won more titles than Rublev. The 23-year-old Russian star has had a stellar 2020 season and boasts one of the best winning records on tour. He may be the lowest seed in the group, but Rublev could prove to be the toughest opponent of them all.
Group Tokyo 1970
Group London 2020
Standing between Salisbury and Ram and a place in the semi-finals are back-to-back Roland Garros champions, Roland Garros winners Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, this year's US Open finalists, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic and of course Kubot and Melo, who they will face in the opener. A tricky group for the British and American duo, but as the second seeds in the competition, they will be full of confidence that they can beat anyone in the field this year, especially on one of their favoured surfaces.
In the Bob Bryan group, US Open champions Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic lead the line-up having reached the finals both in New York and Paris this year. They are joined by Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, John Peers and Michael Venus, and Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Melzer and Roger-Vasselin only just claimed their spot in London this week by making the final at the Sofia Open in Bulgaria.
Group Mike Bryan
Rajeev Ram & Joe Salisbury
Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies
Wesley Koolhof & Nikola Mektic
Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo
Group Bob Bryan
Mate Pavic & Bruno Soares
Marcel Granollers & Horacio Zeballos
John Peers & Michael Venus
Jurgen Melzer & Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Having just missed out on a place in the finals this year, Britain's Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski are the first alternates for the competition, should any pair need to drop out.
Where can you watch?
You can follow all the action across the week live on Amazon Prime Video and via the BBC.
Back Joe at the Nitto ATP Finals