Zverev Faces Anxious Finish In ATP Race To Turin As Hurkacz Closes In

Zverev Faces Anxious Finish In ATP Race To Turin As Hurkacz Closes In

by Nurein Ahmed

The Race to Turin is heating up with close to five players outside the Top 8 positions jostling to join in, but who will succeed?

So far, we know with certainty that Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Jannik Sinner have sealed their spots in the eight-man caravan that will travel at the season finale. The ATP Finals will begin on November 12th.

Djokovic and Alcaraz are fighting their own battle for the year-end No. 1 ranking. Just 500 points separate the world's top two in one of the closely contested finishes at the top since 2016. Alcaraz can draw level if he wins in Basel next weekend.

Medvedev and Sinner sit in 3rd and 4th respectively and it is unlikely they would swap places at this stage. But just below them, we have quite a number of players looking to finish in the Top 8. The current cut-off point for Turin is 4,555, and it looks increasingly likely that Andrey Rublev will make it five.

The Russian was beaten by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the Shanghai Masters final. Rublev had a match point, and had he converted, the result would have been sufficient to lock his place for Turin. But nonetheless, he is scheduled to play in Vienna next and it is only a matter of when and not if Rublev will qualify.

Beyond Rublev is where it gets extremely interesting. Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas has had a seesaw year, with quite a number of lows. But perhaps the biggest disappointment for the two-time Grand Slam finalist would be on missing the flight to Turin.

Tsitsipas has signed up to play in Antwerp which is an indication he is taking things very seriously. He sits in sixth position with 3,615 points. He can establish clear daylight between himself and ninth-placed Taylor Fritz who is playing the 500-level event in Tokyo.

At this moment, Tsitsipas looks a safe bet to qualify, but he'll definitely need a result this week to alleviate the anxiety and just keep that gap. And it has to be said, he is probably a bit fortunate for a week at least, following Alexander Zverev's shocking defeat in Tokyo.

The German was sent packing in his opening match at the Japan Open by Jordan Thompson and that severely harms his chances. That means Zverev can't add to his tally of 3,415 points. Fritz can overtake him in the race if he retains his Tokyo crown.

Casper Ruud also has a chance to rack up 500 points. Since Ruud and Fritz are playing at the same event, only one of them has the chance to rise as high as 7th this week. Denmark's Holger Rune is in Stockholm where he is vying to win 250 points. He is the man occupying the eighth and final slot in the race to Turin.

Rune can't climb the current race rankings this week, as the maximum points he will get is 3,350, slightly short of Zverev's total of 3,415. But the 20-year-old could drop out of the Top 8 if one of Ruud or Fritz wins Tokyo. Just further down in 11th, 12th, and 13th, we have outsiders.

These are Hubert Hurkacz, Tommy Paul and Alex de Minaur. Two weeks ago, the Pole was not even in the conversation to play in Turin. But out of the blue, he bagged a second Masters title of his career in Shanghai and has risen to 11th with 2,775, significantly boosting his chances.

And now Hurkacz has the chance to rise even further, and potentially even overtake Rune. Eighth place could change hands this week. Apart from Fritz and Ruud, it is also within Hurkacz's reach to join the top eight.

Players like Tommy Paul and Alex de Minaur who are both competing in Tokyo can take their points total to the 3,000 mark, creating panic for the likes of Zverev and Rune. In short, we might get a clear picture by the end of the week, but it promises to be an almighty scrap to the finish line.


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