50 years of the ATP Finals

Over the last 50 years over 14 cities around the globe have played host to the ATP Finals.

It began in Tokyo in 1970, Stan Smith beat Rod Laver to win the first title. Paris, Barcelona, Melbourne, New York and Shanghai amongst others hosted before moving to London in 2009.

50 years and 25 champions have stood tall at the end of an incredibly tense week of tennis up against the rest of the best.

Between 1981 and 1988 one consistent performer in New York was the steely Ivan Lendl. To reach back to back finals at one of these events is impressive but to make seven consecutive finals is a record that won’t be broken for some time. In that seven year period it was only in 1983, 1984 and 1988 he didn’t win the title with John McEnroe picking up back to back titles in a period dominated by Ivan winning five titles in eight years.

In 1988 it was Boris Becker who stopped Lendl and a new group of players began to pick up the final piece of silverware.

In the 12 years after Boris picked three titles, we saw: Agassi, Edberg, Stich and Corretja win as well as some domination by Pete Sampras. Pistol Pete was in a world of his own in the late 90’s and won five titles in nine years.

At the turn of the century we were treated to some outstanding tennis from the curly hair Brazilian, Guga Kuerten who backed up his Roland Garros title with the tour finals in Lisbon.

The tenacious Lleyton Hewitt won in consecutive years but in venues thousands of miles away, Sydney and Shanghai saw the Aussie take home the title.

A couple of years in Houston saw a man called Roger Federer win his first two titles before returning to Shanghai to win another two and then onto London winning another two taking his tally to six by 2011 winning six titles in nine years.

In 2006 the Argentine, David Nalbandian won to deny Roger a third title in a row and what would have been a record of five in a row!

Before moving to London in 2009, the 2008 event was Djokovic but in 2009 the story on the debut of London was Nikolay Davydenko who wow’d the crowds with his fun approach to win the first tour finals at the O2 Arena in London.

The Djokovic domination continued winning an outstanding four titles in a row before 2012 and 2015 and was simply unstoppable on the indoor courts.

Someone who was likewise unstoppable in 2016 was Andy Murray, the Brit was an undefeated champion who finished his year with a Wimbledon title, Olympic Gold, 9 titles, ATP Finals champion and world number one ranking.

Over the last three years it has been tough to predict but exciting to follow. Grigor Dimitrov brought flair to his title win in 2017, Alex Zverev stepped up to the plate and was unstoppable and in 2019 the 21 year old Stefanos Tsitsipas stunned his opponents with his unmatched intensity and perfect tactics.

Sadly for the 50th year and final year in London there will be no crowds due to Covid-19 pandemic.

More history will be written this year in London under unexcited circumstances and in 2021, Turin will add to the history of this magnificent event…

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