Here to stay?
Alex Williams looks back on the ATP World Tour Finals and wonders if it will be given a permanent home at the O2
By Alex Williams. Last Updated: 12/11/13 12:09pm
Novak Djokovic: Took home the ATP World Tour Finals trophy for the second straight year
After facing five different top-nine players in seven days and beating them all, Novak Djokovic leaves London with a legitimate claim of being 'best of the best'.
Djokovic's dazzling display of scrambling defence and well-timed attack ensured a second straight title at the ATP World Tour Finals, putting another notable mark on an event which has come to call the O2 Arena home since moving there in 2009 and being given a glamorous rebrand.
Novak Djokovic had to grind out a three-set win against Richard Gasquet at the ATP World Tour Finals.
But the year-end showpiece has traditionally been a nomadic event, leaving many to wonder whether it will stay at the O2 when its current deal expires in 2015.
The possibility of a venue change was a hot topic during the early part of the week and the three biggest names competing - Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer - gave three different answers to the conundrum.
World No 1 Nadal was quick to advocate a change of the surface used for the event, arguing that because the players qualify for the championships on clay, grass and hard courts, the event itself should rotate between those surfaces.
Although Djokovic, like every other player present, praised the spectacle created at the O2, the Serbian stated that the location of the event should be changed in the near future in order to aid the global promotion of the sport.
Federer, meanwhile, said that he hoped the Finals would stay where they are, once again extolling the virtues of the London crowd and also arguing that "indoors deserves a great event".
"I kind of secretly hope maybe it could stay here at the O2, but that's for somebody else to decide."
The differing viewpoints could be taken as self-centred (indoor hard courts have traditionally been Nadal's weakest surface and Federer's strongest), but they create an interesting dilemma.
The incentive for organisers to stay here is obvious - the O2 Arena is second only to the US Open's Arthur Ashe Stadium in terms of capacity for a tennis venue and every one of the 15 sessions is either sold out or close to it.
The format of the tournament plays into that nicely, of course. Fans who bought tickets to the evening session on day two were treated to a three-setter between Djokovic and Federer, something that would not be possible in the usual, seeded knockout format.
That is the real appeal of this event from the spectators' point of view, they can turn up or tune in at any time during the week knowing they will get to see two of the best players in the world in action.
Rafael Nadal (L) and Djokovic seemed to be on a collision course since the start of the event
As Federer had even enjoyed the bulk of the support in his semi-final against Britain's new grand slam winner Andy Murray last year, it was clear that the Swiss legend was going to be the main attraction this time around as well.
He produced flashes of his old self in the defeat to Djokovic and win over Juan Martin del Potro, but collapsed in his semi-final against top seed Nadal, denying viewers another classic contest between the two great rivals.
Winners at the O2
2009: Nikolay Davydenko
2010: Roger Federer
2011: Roger Federer
2012: Novak Djokovic
2013: Novak Djokovic
Nadal was arguably the most impressive player during the round robin stage, dropping just one set to Tomas Berdych despite being taken to two close tie-breaks by the hugely impressive Stanislas Wawrinka.
On semi-final day, the large Swiss contingent was still present in the stands following Federer's defeat in the afternoon, but could not will their No 2 man Wawrinka to an upset victory over Djokovic.
It was in that contest when Djokovic firmly re-established himself as the man to beat. He had been taken to three sets in each of his group matches but on Sunday put on a defensive mastercalss to blunt the numerous weapons of his powerful opponent on his way to a 6-3 6-3 win.
And so the final came down to a showdown between Nadal and Djokovic - the top two players in the world.
Ultimately the contest did not quite live up to expectations as Djokovic retained his title in relatively routine fashion with a straight sets win against his Spanish rival.
But the event had already proven to be more than value for money and, for at least two more years, remains a welcome part of the British sporting calendar.