With the Grand Slam season now over following the US Open, the ATP World Tour enters its final stretch with the focus now centering on the race to the ATP World Tour finals in London. Only the top eight men in the year-to-date rankings will book their place in the prestigious year-end event. Only eight weeks remain for the men on the tour to claim the necessary ranking points to finish the season in the top eight.
The US Open was last major event of the season, meaning that the two remaining Masters 1000 events are now the big prizes for players to help claim their spots in London. A maximum of 3750 points is still available for each player (this would be a title every single week for the rest of the season).
Wawrinka returns to London
Of the players in contention for a spot at the tour finals, Stan Wawrinka made the biggest jump at the US Open courtesy of his stunning title run in New York. By defeating Novak Djokovic to win his third career Grand Slam title, the Swiss jumped from seventh in the race, less than 300 points inside the qualification zone, to third and a guaranteed spot in London. This will be Wawrinka’s third straight appearance at the World Tour Finals. He has reached the semifinals every time he has qualified.
Djokovic tightens hold on number one
Despite falling in the final to Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic put some much-needed distance between himself and Andy Murray for the year-end number one ranking. Going into the US Open, Murray, who currently sits at number two in the Race to London, had an opportunity to overtake Djokovic had he won the title and the Serbian failed to reach the final.
However, Murray’s quarterfinal defeat coupled with Djokovic’s run to the final has widened the cap to a likely insurmountable margin. The gap between the top two is now 2055 points, meaning for Murray to surpass Djokovic, he would need to win either one of the two Masters 1000 titles and go undefeated at the World Tour Finals or win both Masters 1000s and make a run in London just to give himself a shot. But more than likely he will need some help from the Djokovic and the rest of the tour, as some bad results from the current world number one are the only likely way for Murray to reach the top spot by season’s end, even if he wins practically every tournament he enters.
Shake-up within the top eight
When the dust settled in New York, there was actually no change to the current line-up for the World Tour Finals. No one entered or fell out of the top eight at the US Open, as the same eight men who entered New York in qualifying position are still there. However, the order changed considerably. Djokovic and Murray are the only two players who are in the same spot in the race to London as they were before the US Open.
Milos Raonic, who has been in a strong qualifying position all season, slipped up in New York with a second round exit. While this loss cost him a chance to climb up the main rankings, he only slipped one spot, down from third to fourth, in the race to London, falling behind Wawrinka. The Canadian is still in a strong position, sitting 1890 points inside a qualifying position. Despite his run to the semifinals, Kei Nishikori actually fell back a spot in the race. While he closed the gap on Raonic to just over 100 points, he too was bumped down by Wawrinka.
Unlike Nishikori, a semifinal run helped strengthen Gael Monfils’ position in the race. The flamboyant Frenchman, who is looking to qualify for the year-end championships for the first time, put some distance between himself and the rest of the pack by climbing for eighth to sixth courtesy of his career-best run in New York.
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem each fell two spots, with the former world number one now sitting in the perilous eighth and final spot. Thiem is just ahead of him in seventh. Both men lost in the fourth round of the US Open. However, they are both still in strong positions, as eighth place Nadal sits 670 points ahead of ninth place Tomas Berdych, who missed the US Open with an injury. Cincinnati champion Marin Cilic is 800 points behind Nadal in 10th.
Movement among the chasers
Berdych, Cilic, and David Goffin are currently the next three on the outside looking in. Neither improved their standing in New York. Nor did youngster Nick Kyrgios, who sits in 12th (officially 13th, but Roger Federer, who is technically 12th, has ended his season). The biggest jump inside the top 20 was Lucas Pouille, who stunned Nadal on route to the quarterfinals. The Frenchman moved from 19th to 15th, but is still a long way off of qualifying.
Ivo Karlovic had the biggest jump of anyone inside the top 30, jumping five spots into the top twenty. 2011 World Tour Finals runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also climbed up two spots in the rankings to 14th.
There are not many points up for grabs this week, The Davis Cup semifinals and playoffs will be taking place this weekend, with only a handful of points up for grabs for some players. The real chase will begin with a full slate of 250-level events next week.