Novak Djokovic does not believe the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals should be kept in London after the contract runs out in 2015.
The season-ending tournament has been held at the O2 Arena since 2009 and has been a huge success, with more than one million fans travelling to Greenwich. It is also hugely popular with the players, including defending champion Djokovic, but he feels it is a tournament that should regularly move to different cities.
London’s original five-year contract was extended for two years 12 months ago, and tournament organisers would be keen to hang onto it for longer. Djokovic said: “I think this tournament should definitely be organised at different places more often. Not to be held in one city for more than three years. This is my opinion.
“It is in the ATP’s hands, obviously, to think about this kind of thinking that I have, and I know various players share the same opinion, because of the promotion of tennis, popularising the sport in a place where maybe tennis isn’t as popular. If we are looking to expand the consciousness about our sport, then we should look into that.”
World No 1 Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, thinks the tournament should change not just its venue but also the surface. It is the biggest title the Spaniard has not yet won, and the fact it has been held indoors in all the years he has qualified has certainly not helped his chances.
He said: “Probably I was a bit unlucky because in the past we had it outdoors, too. It’s something that I think is unfair. London is one of the best stadiums in the world, and I can’t say they could find a better place than here because the atmosphere is great, but that doesn’t meant the ATP shouldn’t be a little bit more fair to all the players.
“We qualify on all the surfaces so in my opinion it would be great to have the tournament on different surfaces. But it won’t happen for my generation.”
Nadal goes into the tournament as the top seed but the race to end the season as world no 1 is still alive thanks to Djokovic’s incredible recent run. When Nadal beat his rival to win the US Open, his 10th title since returning from knee troubles in February, it seemed the matter was settled. But Djokovic has won all 17 matches since New York, with his third straight title coming on Sunday at the Paris Masters, and he still has a small chance to overtake Nadal. For that to happen, the Serb must retain his title in London and gain maximum points at the Davis Cup final, with Nadal winning fewer than two matches.
For Djokovic, though, the most important thing is that he is again playing at the level that made him top dog in 2011 and 2012. He said: “What is important for me is that I know winning three tournaments in a row, 17 matches in a row, gives me a lot of confidence coming into this week and the closing weeks of the season and opening up the next season also.
“I’m building something for what’s coming up and, if I finish number one, that would be an incredible achievement and I would be very happy but of course, it’s not at the top of my priority list right now.”
Both Djokovic and Nadal begin their round-robin campaigns today, with Nadal facing David Ferrer before Djokovic takes on Roger Federer in the pick of the group matches.
In yesterday’s action, Stanislas Wawrinka made a winning debut at the finals with victory over Tomas Berdych in the first group match at the O2 Arena.
The Swiss world No 8 recovered from losing the second-set tie-break to love to win 6-3 6-7 (0/7) 6-3 in Group A as the tournament began in London.
With matches against Nadal and Ferrer to come, the victory was crucial to the Swiss No 2’s hopes of making the semi-finals.
Group A: Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi) beat Tomas Berdych (Cze) 6-3, 6-7 (0-7), 6-3.
Group B: Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) v Richard Gasquet (Fra)
Group A: Rafael Nadal (Spa) v David Ferrer (Spa), 2pm
Group B: Novak Djokovic (Ser) v Roger Federer (Swi), 8pm