The season-ending ATP Finals features the top 8 players of the world in a round-robin competition followed by a semifinal and a final. Except for the first two editions of the tournament (1970 and 1971), each of the subsequent editions has featured a semifinal and a final.
Players accrue ranking points through the course of a season, in order to qualify for the prestigious season-ending finale.
Over the years, the season-ending tournament has been known by various names - Masters Grand Prix from 1970 to 1989, ATP Tour World Championships from 1990 to 1999, Tennis Masters Cup from 2000 to 2008, ATP Tour Finals from 2009 to 2016, and ATP Finals from 2017 onwards.
The ATP Finals has always featured 8 players in a round-robin format, except in 1970 (6 players), 1971 (7 players), 1982-84 (12 player knockout), and 1985 (16 player knockout). Held once each in Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Boston, Melbourne, Stockholm, Lisbon, and Sydney, the ATP Finals had been held twice in Houston, 4 times in Hanover, 5 times in Shanghai, 6 times in Frankfurt and 13 times in New York from 1970 to 2008.
The tournament has been held in London since 2009. The 50th edition of the ATP Finals will see the return of defending champion Sascha Zverev to the British capital.
Out of 23 different men to have won the season-ending tournament, Roger Federer with 6 titles leads a group of 8 players to have triumphed multiple times. John McEnroe (1978) and Boris Becker (1988) are the only teenagers to have won the tournament.
With the exception of the inaugural winner in 1970 (Stan Smith), Grigor Dimitrov (2017) is the last of 5 debutants to have won the ATP Finals - the others being Ilie Năstase (1971), Guillermo Vilas (1974), John McEnroe (1978), Michael Stich (1993) and Àlex Corretja (1998). In fact, Dimitrov is the only player in ATP Finals history not to have lost a match; all other players who have played at the tournament have lost at least once.
Gael Monfils' quarterfinal defeat to Denis Shapovalov in the last regular tournament of the season in Paris, ousted the Frenchman from contention, and Matteo Berrettini completed the eight-man field for London. For the second time in 3 years, the ATP Finals will see 3 (or more) tournament debutants.
Let us meet all the 8 players who will grace the season-ending 2019 ATP Finals in the British capital.
#1 Rafael Nadal (9th appearance)
Rafael Nadal was the first player to qualify for the 2019 ATP Finals following his quarterfinal victory over Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. The Spaniard will be making his ninth appearance at the season-ending tournament.
Nadal started the season with a runner-up finish to Djokovic at the Australian Open and reached the semifinal at Indian Wells against Federer before withdrawing with an injury. Following a trio of semifinal exits at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal won a record 34th Masters 1000 title, 9th in Rome, by beating Djokovic in the title match.
In a rematch of the 2017 Roland Garros final, Nadal beat Dominic Thiem to record a staggering 12th title at the claycourt Major. The Spaniard reached consecutive Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in eight years but went down to Roger Federer in four sets.
In Montreal, Nadal defended a hardcourt title for the first time in his career, by beating first time Masters 1000 finalist Daniil Medvedev for his 5th Rogers Cup triumph. Four weeks later, Nadal met the same opponent in the US Open final, where the Spaniard relinquished a two-set and a break lead and survived multiple break points in the fifth set to land a 19th Grand Slam title.
Nadal has a rather pedestrian record at the season-ending ATP Finals, failing to win the tournament in 8 previous attempts. The Spaniard is one of only three players to lose two title matches at the ATP Finals (Vitas Gerulaitis in 1979, 1981 and Jim Courier in 1991-92 being the others) without winning one.
#2 Novak Djokovic (12th appearance)
One of only seven players to have qualified for the ATP Finals on 10 or more occasions, the top-ranked Serb sealed a 12th trip to the season-ending event following his 5th Wimbledon title.
2019 has been another stellar season for Djokovic, who is locked in a duel with Rafael Nadal for the year-end ATP No. 1 ranking. The Serb has held down the top spot for all the weeks of the calendar year leading to the Paris Masters.
Following a record 7th Australian Open title to open the season, Djokovic survived two championship points on Federer's serve en route to landing a 5th Wimbledon title. The 32-year-old, who won his 33rd Masters 1000 title at the Madrid Masters, became one of four players in 2019 to win 50 matches after his third-round victory in Paris.
Djokovic holds the ATP Finals record of most consecutive triumphs (4) accomplished between 2012 and 2015, and the record for most consecutive match wins (15), going unbeaten in 15 matches from 2012 to 2015 before losing to Federer in the second robin match in 2015.
After going 0-3 on his ATP Finals debut in 2007, Djokovic has reached the title match in each of his last 6 appearances in the tournament.
The Serb's 35 match wins at the ATP Finals is only bettered by Federer (57), Ivan Lendl (39), and Boris Becker (36).