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Nitto ATP Finals: 5 debutants who have won the tournament

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Ilie Nastase was the first tournament debutant to win the ATP Finals.
Ilie Nastase was the first tournament debutant to win the ATP Finals.

The ATP Finals is the crown jewel of the ATP Tour, pitting the season's best eight players in a round-robin format followed by a semifinal and a final.

Since its inaugural edition in 1970, the tournament had been held in 13 different cities, before settling in London since 2009. All but six (1970-71, 1982-85) of the previous 49 editions of the tournament have featured two round-robin groups of four players each, with the top two from each group contesting the semi-finals followed by a final.

1970 and 1971 featured a round-robin competition of six and seven players respectively, with no semi-final or a final while 1982-85 featured a knockout stage competition which was done away with since 1986.

The 2019 ATP Finals in London would be the 50th edition of the prestigious season-ending finale. Only 23 players over the years have managed to win the tournament. Let us take a look at the tournament debutants who went all the way in their first attempt in the competition.


#1: Ilie Nastase (1971)

Ilie Nastase.
Ilie Nastase.

In 1971, Ilie Nastase became the first debutant in the history of the ATP Finals to win the title in his first attempt.

Featuring a seven-player single robin field with no semi-finals and final, Nastase beat Cliff Richey, Jan Kodes, defending champion Stan Smith, Zeljko Franulovic and Clark Graebner in Paris, to become the second winner of the ATP Finals in as many editions of the tournament.

Nastase was not required to play his sixth round-robin match against Pierre Barthes as the Romanian led the field with five wins, which was one more than defending champion Smith who went 4-2 in the tournament.

The Romanian would go on to become the tournament's first four-time winner (1971-73, 1976), play five consecutive finals (1971-76), as well as being the first player to successfully defend his title (1972).


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