Capital gains

We take a look back on the history of the ATP World Tour Finals since the event moved to London in 2009

By Alex Williams.   Last Updated: 28/10/13 10:54pm

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Novak Djokovic: Reigning ATP World Tour Finals champions after win in 2012

Novak Djokovic: Reigning ATP World Tour Finals champions after win in 2012

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The ATP's season-ending championships now calls the O2 Arena home, but the event has only been held in London since 2009.

The move marked the third rebranding of a tournament which started in 1970, but was held as a non-ranking showcase for 20 years.

When the ATP first took over the running of the event in 1990 they made a large number of ranking points available to the winner. But with a rival event - the lucrative Grand Slam Cup - also billing itself as the year-end showpiece, the tournament still did not have the prestige it enjoys today.

It was not until the turn of the 21st Century that the competition - at the time called the Tennis Masters Cup - gained its current status.

The Masters Cup visited a number of venues before settling in Shanghai from 2005 until 2009, when it was moved to London and given a new name, although the round-robin format followed by the semi-finals and final remained the same.

Here we take a look back on the event since its move to the O2 Arena.

2009 - Davydenko surprise

Nikolay Davydenko: Was a surprise winner of the inaugural event in London

With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two pre-eminent stars of the time, as well as home favourite Andy Murray coming to town, a star-studded battled was expected. But in reality, Nadal was enduring a down year and lost every single one of his group matches, ending the event as the only player to fail to win a single set. Federer finished top of his group but was edged out in the last four by an in-form Davydenko, who had never beaten the Swiss master before.

Murray failed to make it out of his group because Juan Martin del Potro had a better game difference by one game and with Novak Djokovic also bowing out in the round-robin phase, three of the top four players in the world were eliminated before the knockout stages. Federer was then eliminated in the first semi-final, meaning Davydenko would face either French Open finalist Robin Soderling or US Open champion Del Potro in the final.

Del Potro claimed the victory in a final-set tie-break but was comfortably beaten in the final by Davydenko, who emerged as an unlikely winner after all the pre-tournament hype around Federer et al.

2010 - Clash of the titans

In London's second year the fans' choices did feature prominently as the emerging 'Big Four' occupied the semi-final spots and the superstar pair of Federer and Nadal faced off in the final. The top two players in the world both breezed through the group stage without losing, with Federer qualifying after three consecutive straight-sets wins. They were joined in the semi-finals by Murray and Djokovic, as the other four entrants combined to take just two wins in the round-robin stage.

In the semi-finals Federer, who had failed to reach a final for three straight grand slams after reaching 18 of the previous 19, answered his critics by trouncing Djokovic, the Serbian experiencing an off-tournament in between his appearance in the US Open final and Davis Cup and 2011 heroics. In the other semi, Murray pushed Nadal all the way in a match most consider the best to have been played in the tournament's four-year run at the O2. After an epic back-and-forth battle which lasted over three hours, Nadal edged out the British No 1 8-6 in the deciding tie-break.

The stage was thus set for another Nadal-Federer battle in the final, with the pair splitting the first two sets before Federer raced away to win the decider, ensuring he got the last laugh over his great rival despite Nadal's sensational season.

2011 - Roger repeats

Federer entered the 2011 tournament trying to salvage something from a relatively disappointing season which had seen him reach the final of just one grand slam and win none of the major titles for the first time in nine years. But he showed his mastery of indoor hard courts by racing through his group with three straight wins, including a straight-sets thrashing of Nadal. The Spaniard was once again showing his end-of-season vulnerability and bowed out after managing just one win, and even then he needed a third-set tie-break against eighth-ranked Mardy Fish.

Djokovic had enjoyed a miracle year but also could not make it past the group stages, losing to David Ferrer and fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, who had been brought in as an alternate after home favourite Murray withdrew after his opening match due to injury. That meant Federer faced Ferrer in the last four, with outsiders Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfired Tsonga meeting in the other semi-final.

Federer and Tsonga both won in straight sets, and the then 16-time grand slam champion went into their final showdown as the overwhelming favourite. Tsonga did make a game of it by winning the second set in a tie-break but Federer ultimately had too much for him and prevailed in three, sealing a record sixth year-end title in the process.

2012 - Djokovic reigns

A much better year, including victory at Wimbledon, had seen Federer briefly climb back to the top of the world rankings, but Djokovic returned to the No 1 spot by the time the 2012 Finals started. Djokovic certainly lived up to his billing in the round-robin stage, winning three out of three to qualify ahead of Murray. Federer, meanwhile, saw his unbeaten run at the event come to an end after 12 matches, with Del Potro toppling him. Federer had already done enough to qualify for the semi-finals and he was joined in the knockout stages by his Argentine conqueror. An injured Nadal was not present, having been out of action since Wimbledon.

Murray was competing in Britain for the first time since claiming his maiden grand slam title at the US Open but that did not count for much during his semi-final with Federer as an apparent majority of the crowd sided with the Swiss veteran, who rode the support to a straight-sets victory. For the second time at the O2 the final would be a clash between the world's top two players as Djokovic came from a set down to battle past Del Potro in the other last-four contest.

Federer made a fast start in the final and dominated the beginning of each set, but Djokovic battled back each time. Although the reigning champion showed flashes of his brilliant best, his opponent proved to be the more dogged competitor and eventually prevailed in straight sets.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals starts on November 4 and is live on Sky Sports HD.

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