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By Lisa-Marie Burrows

It is always sad when the end of a fantastic tennis season is drawing to a close and despite the pleas for an improved calendar from the players on the ATP and WTA Tours, we are secretly and selfishly pleased that the calendar year is in some ways unforgiving, grueling and long to tantalize our tennis taste buds and keep our end of season withdrawal symptoms at bay for as long as possible.  Although the close of the 2012 season is rapidly approaching, there is still so much to look forward to before the lights dim, the curtain falls and the racket is reluctantly put down for another year. Here are the top 5 things we all have to look forward to from the ATP Tour:

The Final Masters

Shanghai and Paris Bercy are the final tournaments in the Masters 1000 Series, where the players will be clambering on top of each other to try and win the final two events in the Series on the indoor courts of Asia and Europe.  There is still a lot at stake in terms of year-end ranking and many of the top players will be hoping to snatch more ranking points in order to qualify for the World Tour Finals in London in November.  The exciting question is, who will it be to lift the title in the final two Masters tournaments and can anybody break the stranglehold dominance of the top 5 players on Tour? With Nadal and Ferrer out of action in Shanghai, you never know…

Year-end race to London

Without a shadow of a doubt, the year-end pinnacle tournament is the World Tour Finals in London, where the top four players in the rankings, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, have already qualified for their spot and are eagerly waiting to see which other players will succeed in booking their place in London. Other names hoping to qualify in the race for London are David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nicolas Almagro, Richard Gasquet, Juan Mónaco and John Isner.  There are many other players hot on their heels vying for those precious ranking points in order to steal that coveted spot at the O2 Arena.  Here is the current breakdown of the players in the race to London:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx 

Roger Federer in running for year-end world No. 1

Who will finish No.1?

Roger Federer has not hidden his desire of wanting to finish his remarkable 2012 at the top of the rankings and has admitted that ending the year as the world No.1 is something that is very important to him.  Current world No.2, Novak Djokovic, has also expressed his goals for the remaining part of the calendar year and one of them is to regain his No.1 position and finish the year at the top of the ATP rankings too. There are many points to play for and their performances in the tournaments are crucial during the next few weeks. Can Federer withstand the pressure from Novak Djokovic and keep him at bay for a few more weeks? We can’t wait to find out.

The return of Rafa

Current world No.3 and Roland Garros champion, Rafael Nadal, has been out of action since his second round loss at Wimbledon at the hands of Lukas Rosol and for many his absence has been far too long. The popular Spaniard is still recovering from a knee injury and so far his rehabilitation process has avoided the prospect of surgery on his knee. Neither Nadal or his team have confirmed when the 11-time Grand Slam champion will return to the court and there are still questions marks as to whether he will play in the World Tour Finals in November, but through regular Facebook updates, tweets and news delivered by his team, it is clear to see that he is working hard to recover and get back on the court as soon as possible.

Many of the players have expressed their best wishes for his recovery (particularly during the US Open after the Spaniard withdrew from the final Slam of the year) and have shared their thoughts on the void his absence has made on Tour.  Get well soon Rafa and we are keeping our fingers crossed in hope of seeing you back on the tennis court very soon!

The Davis Cup final

For many, the final tournament of the year is the World Tour Finals in London, but after the curtains have drawn on this tournament, there is one achievement still left to accomplish in 2012 for the players from the Czech Republic and Spain – the Davis Cup final.

Last years winners, Spain, will be heading off to the Czech Republic in hope of silencing the home crowd and lifting the Davis Cup trophy for the second year running. The names of the athletes who will be playing for their countries have not yet been confirmed and despite speculated rumor of this being the tournament where Nadal may make his return (although this has not been confirmed) both countries will be eager to complete 2012 with an astonishing victory for their country.

Spain defeated the United States to book their place in the final, whilst the Czech Republic travelled to Argentina where they crushed the hopes of the loyal home crowd to secure their place in the final. Regardless of who plays, it will be a riveting encounter between the two countries and as always, the Davis Cup final is an exciting and atmospheric way to finish the tennis season of 2012.



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