The Runner Sports

Zverev, Ostapenko, And Babos And Hlavackova All Qualify For Year-End Championships In Beijing

With his quarterfinal win in Beijing this week, Alex Zverev becomes the third player, along with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in London. Currently, at a career-high of No. 4 in the world, Zverev has won five titles so far in 2017 in Montpellier, Munich, Rome, Washington D.C., and Montreal.

Zverev was not the only player to qualify for the prestigious year-end championships, on the women’s side, reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko became the seventh player to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals held in Singapore. Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova also qualified for the women’s doubles event in Singapore, taking the fifth spot. The ATP and WTA tours both hold a season-ending championship where eight singles players and eight doubles teams have qualified by accumulating points throughout the year. The mens’ tournament is held Nov. 12-19, while the women’s are held Oct. 22-29.

It has been a breakout year for Zverev, who ended last year at No. 26. Zverev is the youngest qualifier for the ATP Finals since 2008, and it was only two years ago that Zverev was there as a recipient of the Star of Tomorrow award. Although ranked inside the top 5 now, Zverev has competed his best on the ATP Tour. He only advanced to the second week of a Grand Slam event once, at Wimbledon. Along with his five titles, Zverev also finished runner-up at a grass-court tournament in Halle. With improved fitness and working on moving forward to use his height at the net, Zverev certainly deserves a place at this year’s ATP Finals. Now, Zverev should work on his mental game so that he can be ready at the Grand Slams and live up to the high expectations that are given to him. Currently, he made it to the semifinals of the ATP 500 event in Beijing this last week, losing to Nick Kyrgios.

Ostapenko made headlines this year by being the surprise Grand Slam champion at Roland Garros. She became the first Latvian to ever win a Grand Slam, and it was also her first tour-level singles title, the first women’s player to do so since 1979. Ostapenko’s got an aggressive baseline game and fearless attitude; the biggest thing she needs to work on is her serve. After Roland Garros, it took her awhile, but Ostapenko finally got a second career title under her belt in Seoul two-weeks ago. Ostapenko is made the semifinals in Beijing and at a career-high ranking of No. 8, and lost to world No. 2 Simona Halep, whom she defeated to win her French Open title.

Hlavackova actually has two chances to qualify for the doubles event, but has not competed with the other partner, Peng Shuai since January, so it is probably safe to say her and Babos are the team for Singapore. Taking the fifth spot means only three more teams can qualify. Hlavackova and Babos are making their debut as a team, but have both been to the season-ending championships before. The pair’s best result in a Grand Slam this year was at the US Open, where they got to the quarterfinals. Hlavackova and Babos have won three titles so far in Rabat, Quebec City and Tashkent, and finished runner-up in Madrid. They’re a solid doubles team. Both are good from the net, although Hlavackova has a little better reaction time, but Babos has a bigger serve, so it evens out. The pair is lost in the finals of the doubles event in Beijing.

There are five spots left in the men’s singles and six spots left in the men’s doubles. As for the women, there is only one slot open for the singles event, and three positions still to fill for the doubles, so it will be interesting to see who steps up to make the cut. Stay tuned.

Conrad Ellis

Conrad Ellis

Stevenson University graduate, class of 2016
Played tennis for 14 years and counting, favorite shot is forehand
Conrad Ellis