QUIZ: The 50-year history of the ATP Finals

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In these straitened times prize money has also been slashed from last year's total pot of USA $9 million (S$12.14 million) to $5.7 million with an undefeated champion to pocket $1.56 million compared to the $2.6 million Tsitsipas earned despite losing one round-robin match.

Rafael Nadal holds 86 career tour titles but the ATP Finals isn't one of them.

Tsitsipas produced a forehand victor in the third game of the second set to break the Austrian and haul himself back into the contest, facing no break points as he levelled the match.

"I think the O2 arena was very successful for this event the last 11 years, and I was fortunate to have plenty of success here..."

"I'll play him first time in doors..."

But Thiem responded brilliantly to force a set point and then made Tsitsipas pay dearly for failing to put the ball away. He has always been a tough player for me to play against. I am obviously happy to be here, to be able to do my job and my passion, but I know there are millions of people that don't have that opportunity.

Eight of the world's best players are set to go toe-to-toe at the O2 Arena in London
Eight of the world's best players are set to go toe-to-toe at the O2 Arena in London

Tsitsipas broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set with a forehand passing shot before leveling the match.

Three games into this opener, Thiem earned the first break point and had a good look at a backhand pass down the line but caught the top of the tape. "I think that was the last key moment where the match went finally in my direction".

For nearly 12 years, the final tournament of the ATP season has been battled out in the capital of England in front of thousands of fans. Because of the coronavirus pandemic there are no fans inside the 20,000-capacity venue this time - meaning the normally raucous atmosphere has been replaced by an eerie silence interrupted only by muted applause from the players' boxes between points.

Since there will be no line judges at The O2 due to Covid-19 protocols and electronic line-calling will be in use, video review can not challenge whether a ball is in or out. "I mean, if the electric system calls it out, it's out".

Nadal appears to have the harder route to the semi-finals with Andrey Rublev completing the Tokyo 1970 group alongside Tsitsipas and the winners of the last two Grand Slams. Tsitsipas can still advance depending on his results against Nadal and Rublev in the last two group-stage rounds.

But Djokovic is rapidly closing in on 300 and asked if it's inevitable he will take over Sampras' year-end No 1 record and also usurp Federer's feat, Hantuchova added: "Yeah I think so, just because he's younger, fresher and his fitness levels are higher than I've ever seen".

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