Top Trio Qualifies For Tennis Masters Cup
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New Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal is among a star trio announced as the first qualifiers for the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup. The Spaniard will join four-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, whom he beat in an epic Wimbledon final, and Serbian Novak Djokovic at the prestigious circuit finale, to be held for the fourth year at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium from November 9-16.
New Wimbledon champions and Stanford ATP Doubles Race leaders Daniel Nestor of Canada and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic, and American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, have also clinched the first two doubles places in the elite eight-team field at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.
ATP World No. 2 Nadal, who became the first player since Sweden’s Bjorn Borg in 1980 to capture to Roland Garros and Wimbledon title back-to-back, has held down the top stop in the ATP 2008 Race standings since clinching his fourth straight Roland Garros title in June. He currently leads the ATP circuit with a 56-7 match record and six titles this season. Following runner-up finishes in Chennai and at the ATP Masters Series event in Miami, the Spaniard won at Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Roland Garros and then collected his first career grass court title at Queen’s Club prior to his historic triumph at the All England Club.
“I have just been informed that I have qualified for the Masters in Shanghai,” said Nadal, a semifinalist in his two Tennis Masters Cup appearances. “I am very happy about this fact since it will be my fourth consecutive. I couldn’t play on the first one and I have never managed to win it, so I am really looking forward for this year’s event and as always I’ll try my best knowing it won’t be easy.”
ATP World No. 1 and defending Tennis Masters Cup champion Federer is set to return to the circuit finale for the seventh straight year following his appearance in the Wimbledon final. The Swiss has compiled a 43-9 season record, collecting ATP titles in April at Estoril and in June at Halle. In addition to Wimbledon, he finished as runner-up to Nadal at Masters Series Monte-Carlo, Masters Series Hamburg and Roland Garros.
Federer has reached the Tennis Masters Cup final the past five years. He won back-to-back titles in 2003-04 and again in 2006-07.
Djokovic earns his second straight Tennis Masters Cup berth, having compiled a 38-9 record and three titles through the first half of the season. The 21-year-old Serb opened the year by capturing his first career Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, and followed it up with the ATP Masters Series titles at Indian Wells and Rome.
Following the Wimbledon final, Nadal has accumulated 955 points to lead the ATP 2008 Race. Federer holds the second position in the Race with 685 points and Djokovic the third with 649 points, 278 points ahead of his nearest rival, Nikolay Davydenko.
“It is wonderful to see these three great players, Rafa, Roger and Novak, qualify for the Tennis Masters Cup again. Shanghai 2008 is certain to be a thrilling finale as the battle for the year-end World No.1 ranking is the closest in years,” said Tennis Masters Cup Tournament Director Brad Drewett.
Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic overtook the Bryan twins at the top position in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race by winning their third title from their fifth consecutive final, Saturday at Wimbledon. Nestor and Zimonjic have compiled a 22-2 team record in their last five tournaments, lifting the trophies at Masters Series Hamburg, Queen’s Club and Wimbledon and finishing runners-up at Masters Series Rome and Roland Garros.
This marks the sixth straight year that Nestor has qualified for the Tennis Masters Cup. After reaching the final for the first time in 2006, he and long-time partner Mark Knowles clinched the title last year. Zimonjic will be making his third appearance in the circuit finale, and reached the final in his Tennis Masters Cup debut three years ago with Leander Paes.
Bob and Mike Bryan, the No. 1 doubles team for the past three years, have a 43-12 season record with three titles in eight finals. They moved into sole position of the No. 4 position on the list of Open Era doubles titles leaders by clinching their 45th career ATP title in April at Miami, and then titled at Barcelona and Rome.
The 30-year-old American twins, who missed last year’s circuit finale due to Mike’s elbow injury, won back-to-back Tennis Masters Cup titles in 2003-04 when the tournament was held in Houston.
The top seven players in the ATP 2008 Race and the top seven teams in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race following the BNP Paribas Masters qualify for the circuit finale, with one spot reserved for Grand Slam champions finishing within the Top 20.