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Who will be the top performers in this year’s ATP Tour?

The ATP Tour is, outside of the Grand Slam tournaments, the premier top-tier tennis competition for men.

Running from January through to November, the Tour is made up of a series of different tournaments where players earn points, which then correspond into ATP rankings. Tournaments outside of the ATP, like the Grand Slams, also contribute to the ATP rankings but are not organised by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

The most important tournament of these is, of course, the ATP Finals. This year, these are set to take place from November 14 until November 21 in Turin, Italy. Only the top eight players – based off their points from the rest of the season – enter these Finals, which are the last event on the ATP Tour.

Last year, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev won the ATP Finals by beating Dominic Thiem – who was runner-up for the second year in a row – in the final, which was held in London for the final time.

However, it was Novak Djokovic who was ranked World No. 1 by the end of the ATP Tour, making it a record-equalling six times the Serbian has proven himself the best in the world. In 2020, he won four titles including a record eighth Australian Open crown.

It was not all smooth sailing for him, though. In the ATP Cincinnati semi-final, Djokovic almost suffered his first defeat of 2020 at the hands of Bautista Agut, who picked up the first set and then served for the match. Novak found a way, though.

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Then there was his semi-final defeat to Thiem at the Masters in an enthralling battle over three sets.

Medvedev also produced some memorable performances last year, particularly when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the ATP Finals semi-final within three sets, before going on to win the tournament.

Who is the betting favorite?

Online sports betting odds make the picture of this year’s tour quite clear; Djokovic remains favourite to win (with odds of 2.2/1), with Nadal seen as his closest rival; understandable given they were last year’s No. 1 and 2 respectively.

Djokovic, along with Nadal and Roger Federer, is one of tennis’ “big three” and has dominated the men’s side of the sport with those two over the past 15 years.

He has been the World No. 1 for a record 318 weeks, picking up a staggering 18 Grand Slam titles in that time. In total, he has 82 ATP singles titles. He has separated himself from his peers in several ways; he is the only player to win all of the “Big Titles” on the ATP Tour (all four Grand Slam tournaments, all nine ATP Masters events, and the ATP Finals) and remains the only player to complete the career Golden Masters – which he has done twice.

Arguably his standout year was 2015, when he reached fifteen consecutive finals, including all four major finals and eight Masters finals, winning three majors and a season-record of six Masters events as well as the ATP Finals.

In his current form, it’s no surprise he’s the favourite to be named World No. 1 by the end of the year, but Nadal is expected to give him a run for his money.

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The Spaniard has been named best in the world at the end of a year five times in total and holds 20 Grand Slam singles titles to his name – an all-time record he shares with Federer.

Widely considered the greatest player ever on clay, Nadal has 13 French Open titles; a record at any tournament. His latest title at Roland Garros came last year. Along with Andre Agassi, he is one of only two male players to complete the Career Golden Slam – winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal.

His professional rivalry with Djokovic is unprecedented, with the pair having faced each other 56 times – the most in men’s history. Nine of those times were in major finals.

With a vicious forehand, Nadal is notoriously good at breaking serve, making him an incredibly difficult opponent. Despite being 34, he is still a force at the top of the sport.

In recent years a healthy party of newcomers have stormed the upper levels of the world rankings, including Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 22-year-old is the youngest player in the world’s top 10, where he finished at No. 5 last year, a position that made him the highest -ranked Greek player in history. He has six ATP titles to his name, including a 2019 win in the ATP Finals.

He’s also performed very well in Grand Slams, reaching the semi-finals three times; twice at the Australian Open and once at the French Open.

Always improving, Tsitsipas is an exciting talent who is capable of beating anyone on his day and is certainly a name to look out for during this year’s ATP Tour.

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So too is Medvedev, who has proven himself a legitimate contender and currently sits at No. 3 in the world. In last year’s ATP Finals, he defeated Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem en-route to his title victory, becoming the only player in history to defeat the top 3 ranked players in the world to take the title.

While Djokovic and Nadal – the world’s top two players – are unsurprising favourites to sit at the top of the rankings by the end of the year, there are exciting up-and-comers like Tsitsipas and Medvedev who could make things interesting.