Organisers of this year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals remain hopeful that Andy Murray will qualify for the year-end finale in London.
The British No.1 is currently 10th in the race to qualify for the eight-man round-robin event at The O2, with four places still up for grabs. Murray’s chances of qualifying were dented last week by a third-round defeat in Shanghai to David Ferrer, who leapfrogged him in the leaderboard.
It is the most competitive qualification battle in recent years, with only Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka booking their places with a little over three weeks until the tournament begins on November 9. Despite some disappointing results in Asia, where he lost his opening matches in Tokyo and Shanghai, Australian Open champion Wawrinka qualified for a second successive year following the conclusion of last week's Shanghai Masters.
Murray, who is playing at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna this week in a bid to pick up some valuable points, faces competition from some familiar foes as well as some new faces.
In addition to the familiar faces of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, there could be some fresh blood in London this year. US Open champion Marin Cilic is one of four would-be debutants, alongside Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov, who are all gunning to make the cut.
Murray did not play in London last year after undergoing back surgery following the 2013 US Open. Despite announcing in mid-September that he expected to miss the rest of the season, the 2013 edition enjoyed record audiences as more than 260,000 fans flocked to North Greenwich last year.
With the ‘Big Three’ already guaranteed a place, organisers say ticket sales are tracking at a similar rate to last year, with fans guaranteed to see some of the world’s best players in action, regardless of whether or not Murray qualifies. However, Simon Higson, ATP Corporate Communications and PR Director, admits Murray is a big draw on home soil.
“Any tennis event in the world would want to have Andy Murray as part of the tournament,” Higson said. “He is a big draw wherever he plays in the world, and particularly in London.
“We do however try not to promote our event around any one player – for us it is about the world’s best eight players. While it’s too early to speculate whether Andy’s participation in London may affect future ticket sales, what we can say is that ticket sales this year are tracking at a very similar rate to 2013.”
2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by the numbers
- 13,000,000 visitors to ATP digital platforms during the tournament
- $6,000,000 prize money
- $1,923,000 won by champion Novak Djokovic
- 1,284,685 – fans to have attended the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals since 2009
- 403,974 visitors to The O2 during the tournament, including entry to the non-ticketed fan zone, practice courts, restaurants and bars
- 261,247 overall attendance in 2013
- 9 out of 15 sessions sold out