Among the tennis news from several year-end ATP events, World No.1 Novak Djokovic became a proud father two days ago, when his wife Jelena Ristic delivered a baby boy at a clinic in Nice. The happy Serb tweeted to his followers yesterday that the baby was named Stefan. Of the top 5 tennis players in the world, Djokovic is the third father to join Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic and Jelena got married in July, just four days after the Serb had won his second Wimbledon title. Happily for Djokovic, he is spared from competing in the furious race to Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, having already qualified for the event. But as a new father, he will be looking to celebrate the arrival of the new-born at Paris, when he takes to tennis courts at BNP Paribas Masters beginning October 27. The Paris Masters will be the last ATP tournament before the prestigious elite eight-man field of the Barclays World Tour Finals at O2 in London from 9-16 November. Besides Djokovic, the others who have already qualified for London’s World Tour Finals are; Federer, Nadal, Wawrinka and Marin Cilic. Now for the remaining three spots there are several contenders including; Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov. After the Shanghai Rolex Masters, three ATP250 tournaments have already been played and in the current week, two ATP500 events are underway at Basel and Valencia before the Paris Masters next week. Tennis stars regard these year-end tournaments as crucial for scoring as many ATP points as possible in order to improve their chances for London. Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray emerged winners in last week’s ATP250 tournaments at Moscow, Stockholm and Vienna respectively and added 250 points each to their kitty.
Marin Cilic registered as the fifth qualifier for the season finale in London after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 to win the Bank of Moscow Kremlin Cup. In an otherwise easy encounter, Cilic had problems only in the opening service game of the match, where he had to save three break points. Afterwards, he secured a break of his own for a 4-3 lead. The set went on serve in favor of the Croat and he didn’t have any issues in the second set as well. Remarkably, he is only the second Croat after his coach Goran Ivanovic to win the Kremlin Cup. Six weeks ago, the 26-year old Croat had emerged as the new US Open Champion and his stock went up in the world rankings. For the second seeded Cilic, the Moscow victory was his fourth title in 2014 after he also won in Delray Beach and Zagreb indoors. After ensuring his berth at London, Cilic is giving a miss to Basel and Valencia but he should be right back for the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Tomas Berdych defeated Grigor Dimitrov 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to win If Stockholm Open tournament and stayed in the race for London. If he succeeds, the 29-year old Czech will play at Barclays World Tour Finals for the fifth consecutive year. The 2013 Stockholm champion Dimitrov made a late surge in the first set, just when Berdych began serving for the set at 5-4. The Bulgarian, however, broke Berdych and reeled off four more games to clinch the first set. But the Czech composed himself, broke Dimitrov straightaway early in the second and third sets and played a smooth no-frills game to take the title in just under two-and-half hours. Despite his loss, Dimitrov is still in contention for London, although he trails Andy Murray by 330 points. On Wednesday, however, Berdych’s calculations misfired, when he crashed out of the Valencia Open in the first round. In a stunning upset, Berdych lost to Spain’s Pablo Andujar 3-6, 2-6 in just 72 minutes. His lead over Andy Murray after the Stockholm win was 220 points but the Scot now has a chance to capitalize on Berdych’s early exit at Valencia
Meanwhile on Sunday, Murray also emerged victorious at Vienna’s Erste bank Open by beating David Ferrer in a hard-fought three-set battle. In a match lasting 2 hours 42 minutes, Murray began by losing the first set 5-7 but recovered to take the next two sets against the tournament’s top seed. Both Murray and Ferrer continue to be strong contenders for London ATP World Tour Finals. The victory at Vienna and Tomas Berdych’s first round exit at Valencia could potentially enhance Murray’s chances for London. In beating Ferrer at Vienna, Murray also avenged his loss to the Spaniard at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Meanwhile tennis action also continues in the Indoor tournament at Basel, Roger Federer’s hometown, where the super Swiss is making his 15th appearance. Federer has reached the final in Basel 8 times with 5 title wins. After 2004, when Rafael Nadal played there as an 18-year old, the Spaniard is entering the Basel Indoors after a long gap. He is seeded no.2 behind Federer. The two top seeds are followed by Wawrinka, Raonic, Dimitrov, Gulbis, Goffin and Karlovic. While Federer and Nadal have already qualified for London, the tournament holds immense value for Raonic and Dimitrov, both of whom are still in the race for London.