2019 has been one of the most incredible men’s tennis seasons in recent memory, featuring repeat champions, emerging stars and surprise storylines that have thrilled tennis fans across the globe. Now as the season comes to a close, the eight most accomplished men’s singles players will head to the O2 Arena in London for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals.
This year’s ATP Finals singles qualifiers are Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini. Besides the diverse mix of dominant champions and relative newcomers who encompass the player field, one other aspect is abundantly clear for those looking with a Tennis Paradise state of mind. Four of those participants – Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Thiem – have claimed eight of the BNP Paribas Open titles throughout the last decade.
These former Tennis Paradise titlists, specifically the big three of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, have been nothing short of dominant in Indian Wells. In many ways, the last ten years at the BNP Paribas Open have been a microcosm of the ATP Tour at large. Throughout the 2019 season, that dominance has continued more so than ever.
Nadal, the current World No. 1 and three-time Tennis Paradise champion (2007, 2009, 2013) has put together a masterful season. After having to withdraw due to injury from a highly-anticipated semi-final match with Roger Federer at the BNP Paribas Open, the Spaniard ignited his 2019 campaign by adding two more Grand Slam trophies to his collection. At the French Open in June, Nadal dropped only two total sets on the way to his record-setting 12th tournament title. He followed up his performance in Roland Garros by adding the US Open trophy with another incredible fortnight of tennis in New York. The victory marked his 19th career Grand Slam title, putting him only one behind career-rival Federer in overall standings. Just when we thought 2019 couldn’t be any better for Nadal, he notched the most meaningful accolade of the year by wedding his longtime girlfriend in his hometown of Mallorca. Now, he’ll look to put the icing on the cake by taking the year-end title at the ATP Finals, one of the few significant titles that has eluded him thus far in his career.
For World No. 3 Federer, his time at the BNP Paribas Open has been a representation of the overall supremacy he’s enacted over the ATP Tour throughout his career. The Swiss Maestro has five Indian Wells titles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2017), tied with Djokovic for the most in the tournament’s history. While Federer failed to add any Grand Slams to his trophy case this season, he opened his 2019 campaign by winning his 100th career singles title at the Dubai Tennis Championships. In doing so, he became only the second man in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors to reach the three-figure mark. He added three more singles titles during the remainder of the season, and now has his eyes on another in London.
World No. 2 Djokovic emerged as a perennial force on the ATP Tour many years after Nadal and Federer, but he’s now the standard by which all other men’s players are measured. Although fans in Tennis Paradise may remember his surprising third-round exit at the 2019 tournament, they’d be remiss not to harken back to the Serbian’s record-tying five titles (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016). Of the eight ATP Finals singles qualifiers, only Djokovic has had a season that rivals that of Nadal’s. Similarly to the Spaniard, he claimed two Grand Slam titles in 2019 as well as several other singles crowns. In winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon by beating Nadal and Federer in the finals respectively, Djokovic further cemented his argument as one of the greatest players of all time.
While not a part of tennis’ acclaimed big three, World No. 5 Thiem is experiencing a 2019 to remember that has catapulted him into the conversation of the sport’s premiere players. Before this year’s BNP Paribas Open, eight of the Austrian’s then 11 career titles had come on clay. Having long been thought of as an elite clay court player who struggled on the other surfaces, Thiem elevated his play in March to claim the trophy in Indian Wells and his first career Masters 1000 title. Even more impressive, he did so by denying Federer a record sixth BNP Paribas Open victory, defeating him in a thrilling final for the ages. The rising Austrian has already had his finest season to date, and will now look to put the finishing touches on a career-defining year with a worthy performance at the ATP Finals.