Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ATP World Finals - November 10, 2014

My last day in England was spent catching up on sleep before I headed over to the O2 Arena, where the ATP Finals were underway. This is the tournament where the top eight men in the world rankings play in a round robin (two groups of four) for six days with the top two in each group making the semifinals. A doubles tournament is also held at the same time and each day during the round robin features two separate admission sessions with one doubles and one singles match. Tickets are not cheap, with the least expensive at the door costing 42 quid.

The O2 Arena is inside a large entertainment complex on the site of the Millennium Dome, now known as The O2. It is more of a concert facility than a sports arena, but it has held the ATP final since 2009. Located next to the North Greenwich tube station in east London, The O2 has its own neighborhood, with dozens of restaurants including TGI Fridays and Five Guys for those who miss American food.

On this day, the doubles match featured top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Łukasz Kubot of Poland and Robert Lindstedt from Sweden, 8th in the world. In a minor upset, the underdogs won in straight sets. I really didn't care much as the rules are slightly different (there is no advantage at deuce; the next point wins) and really, who watches doubles tennis?

After a short break, it was time for the singles match, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic (above) taking on 9th overall Marin Cilic (below), the US Open winner who was added to the program when third-ranked Rafael Nadal withdrew.

I had missed Djokovic when I attended the US Open last year so was happy to get the chance to see him here. Although in the end, I barely saw him as he dominated Cilic, who held serve in the first game of the match before losing six in a row. The second set was more of the same as Djokovic needed just 56 minutes to dispense of the ninth-best player in the world 6-1, 6-1. Amazing to watch just how much better Djokovic is; he played nearly flawless tennis while Cilic made several unforced errors.

In all my years of attending sport, I don't think I've ever attended a match with such little value for the price paid. I don't mean that I didn't enjoy it; certainly seeing the best player in the world at his peak is unforgettable, but at $65, it was a lot of money for just 56 minutes. Yes, there was that doubles match, but I wouldn't have gone if that was the only thing on offer. A day pass in the early days at the US Open is about the same and gives you twelve hours of tennis, a bargain compared to this event.


The entire tournament saw mostly one-sided matches in the round robin. Djokovic and #2 Roger Federer advanced to the finals with three-set wins in their respective semi-finals, but Federer withdrew from the final due to injury, giving Djokovic the title in a walkover. The Bryan brothers also overcame their early loss to win the doubles championship in a match that required a tiebreak after they split the first two sets with 7th-seeded Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo.



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