The semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals 2017 are set. Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Jack Sock will battle it out for a spot in the last two. It won’t be uncharted waters for Federer as he has won the title on six occasions and will now aim for a record seventh. The remaining three players have not even reached the year-end semis before this year. Experience and form are strongly in favour of the Swiss to win this title yet again.
Federer has been the World No.1 for a record 302 weeks. In his long list of accolades, one record that Federer holds is winning the year-end championships for most number of times (6). Not only Federer but players like Novak Djokovic, Ivan Lendl, Ilie Nastase, Pete Sampras have won the title on multiple occasions and have been World No.1 players as well.
Strangely, there are players who have been ranked at the top spot and yet have won the year-end title only once. Weariness due to a hectic schedule, Injury, uncomfortable with the round-robin format, whatever may be the reason but these 5 legends deserved to win the ATP Finals more than once.
Most of us know Stan Smith as a formidable doubles player who along with Bob Lutz made one of the best doubles team in tennis history. But Stan Smith was also an excellent singles player and is a former World No.1 in men’s singles. He won two slams in singles (1971 US Open & 1972 Wimbledon). In 1972, he was the year-end World No.1. Despite his impressive record, Stan won the year-end championships only once which came in 1970. He had a good record at the ATP Finals (then known as Masters Grand Prix) the next two years wherein he reached the finals but lost both the championship matches.
Jimmy Connors has the most career match wins and most titles won under his belt and yet he managed to win the year-end championships only once. The former World No.1 stayed at the numero uno spot for a then record of 160 weeks and overall for 268 weeks. Surprisingly, the year-end championship that Connors won was in 1977 and that was the only year where he had managed to reach the finals of the event.
One of the ambassadors of the serve and volley style, Stefan Edberg won the year-end championship in 1989. The following year, Edberg reached the finals again but lost to Andre Agassi in 4 sets. Edberg won 6 singles grand slam titles in his career and was the World No.1 for 72 weeks.
As surprising as it sounds, Andre Agassi won one of those legendary players who won the year-end championships only once. Agassi was globally one of the most charismatic and dominant athletes in the 1990s. A World No.1 for 101 weeks, he was often tagged as the greatest returner in tennis. He won 8 singles grand slam titles and reached the finals on seven other occasions in grand slams. He also bagged the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. In 1990, he defeated the defending champion, Stefan Edberg in 4 sets.
Agassi reached the finals of the year-end championships on three occasions (1999,2000 & 2003) but lost to Pete Sampras, Gustavo Kuerten and Roger Federer.
Gustavo Kuerten was the World No.1 player for 43 weeks. One of the best clay court players in tennis history, “Guga” won the year-end championships in 2000. He defeated Andre Agassi in the finals and became the first Brazilian to win the year-end championships. Kuerten’s career was plagued by injuries but he still managed to win the Roland Garros title on three occasions. Except 2000, Kuerten never reached the finals of the year-end championships.
The ongoing ATP Finals has no World No.1 playing the semis due to the withdrawal of Rafa Nadal who is yet to win a year-end championship title.