If it looked like the race for the ATP Finals was competitive, just wait until 2018. Grigor Dimitrov walked away the champion with a three-set win over unexpected finalist David Goffin.
Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are just three of the usual participants that missed the tournament this year due to injury. Add in the fact that this year’s first-timers like Dimitrov, Goffin and Jack Sock aren’t going to be ready to give up their spots without a fight and you could see contenders for the final spots running into the double digits.
Here’s a look at five players that didn’t make the tournament this year, but will be ready to make a charge in 2018.
Juan Martin del Potro
For the 2009 ATP Finals runner-up, it usually depends on his health. If the Argentine is able to get a few more events under his belt, he could be firmly in the mix for a spot. This year, he pushed himself into contention late by winning the title in Stockholm.
Arguably, the French veteran had one of the best years of his career in 2017, winning four titles in a season for the first time. Posting better Grand Slam results next year could make a difference with his ranking. Tsonga’s always a threat indoors: He won three titles under the roof this year alone, and finished second at the ATP Finals in 2011.
In 2017, Pouille’s versatility was on full display as he won three tournaments on as many different surfaces, including his first aTP 500-level triumph in Vienna over countryman Tsonga.
It was his play in the bigger events that put a crimp in his rise up the rankings. Aside from a semifinal run in Monte Carlo, Pouille failed to reach a quarterfinal at any of the other ATP Masters events or the Grand Slams a year after making the final eight at two majors.
The enigmatic Australian dealt with injury and personal issues throughout the year before being forced to shut down his season early. While he didn’t win a title, he did reach his first ATP Masters final, falling to Dimitrov in Cincinnati.
Roberto Bautista Agut
One of the most consistent players on the ATP World Tour, Bautista Agut reached his career-high ranking of No. 13 this year. The Spaniard won two titles on hard courts this year, but didn’t defend his 2016 runner-up points from the Shanghai Masters.
In 2018, as always, expect him to be in the mix.
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