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Ten thoughts from the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals

ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Thursday 14 November 2013

It was another sell-out week at the O2, but did we learn anything new from the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals? Here are 10 thoughts from Wimbledon.com..

1. Autumn, that time of year when leaves and tennis players are supposed to curl up at the edges, has been quite the season for Novak Djokovic. Off the court, the Serb summoned up "all the courage possible" to propose to his girlfriend Jelena Ristic, and she said yes. On the court, he went unbeaten in the two months after the US Open, with his winning streak reaching 22 matches after he defeated Rafael Nadal in Monday's final of the season-ending tournament in London. This wasn't just about Djokovic retaining his title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and winning the tournament for the third time; it was also about the Serb demonstrating that he has every intention of regaining the world No.1 ranking from Nadal next season.

2. When was the last time that someone lost in the first round of The Championships and had arguably the greatest year of his tennis life? On an indoor hard court in south-east London, Rafael Nadal was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt to become only the second man - the first was Andre Agassi - to win all four Grand Slams, Olympic gold, the Davis Cup and the season-ending tournament. But, even without a first title at this event, Nadal's comeback has been nothing less than extraordinary - and has given him the most emotional year of his career. After returning to the ATP World Tour in February, after seven months away with a knee injury, Nadal won ten titles in 2013, which included victories at Roland Garros and the US Open, both taking his career total to 13 Grand Slams and inviting discussions that the Majorcan could end up being regarded as the greatest player of all time.

3. You don't have to wrap a Union flag around this tournament to enjoy it. Of course, in an ideal world, the British tennis public would have travelled down the Jubilee Line to celebrate Britain's first men's Wimbledon champion for 77 years; as it was, Andy Murray's most high-profile engagement of the week was sitting on Jonathan Ross's sofa. Still, in the absence of Murray, who missed the tournament as he recuperated after a back operation, we had confirmation of another truth about tennis crowds in London: they are a worldly bunch. More than 260,000 spectators attended this year's season finale, and from the noise they made over the eight days, it was plain that they appreciated the opportunity to watch Spanish, Swiss, Serbian, Argentine, Czech and French players. 

4. Roger Federer won three prizes in London, for his popularity, his sportsmanship, and his philanthropy. But he didn't look like a man content for this end-of-season event to be primarily an industry awards party for him; how he would have loved to have also picked up The Brad Drewett Trophy for the brilliance of his tennis, for being the champion once again. In 2014, Federer, who turns 33 next year, won't just want to qualify for the season-ending championships for a 13th time; he will want to win the title for a record seventh occasion. Federer, though he has had a difficult season, remains ambitious.

5. The only debutant among this year's field of eight singles players, Stanislas Wawrinka, turned in some fine performances. Who would have thought that, after Roger Federer was beaten, there would still be a Swiss left in the tournament (Federer lost the afternoon semi-final, while Wawrinka played in the evening)? Playing in London was a thrill for Wawrinka; doubtless, he is already planning how to be back here in 2014. 

6. So Fernando Verdasco can succeed in London. Verdasco, who almost hijacked Andy Murray's Wimbledon (the Spaniard led their singles quarter-final by two sets to love), won himself a trophy in the city in 2013; he and David Marrero were the doubles champions, beating the Bryan brothers in the final.

7. Juan Martin del Potro, who played such a fine match in defeat to Novak Djokovic at this year's Wimbledon Championships, further endeared himself to London with his performances in Greenwich. After all, he came to London after the trauma of a robbery at Gare du Nord in Paris, where a rosary blessed by the Pope was stolen.

8. Even David Ferrer can't play seven weeks in a row without it having an effect on his performance. Losing all three of his round robin matches in London, he admitted he was exhausted. 

9. In their solo careers, tennis players aren't used to being reliant on others' results. Stanislas Wawrinka joked that he owed Rafael Nadal dinner after the Spaniard's round-robin victory over Tomas Berdych, which put the Swiss through and eliminated the Czech.

10. It was a decent tournament for the one-handed backhand, with Roger Federer (semi-finalist), Stanislas Wawrinka (semi-finalist) and Richard Gasquet (a qualifier for the first since 2007) in the singles field.

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20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.

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