With Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem all shutting down their 2021 season early because of injury, their guaranteed absence at the ATP Nitto Finals gives several players an opportunity to make their debut at the last tournament of the season.
The 2021 finals, which will feature the top eight players of the season, will be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14 to 21 November.
Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have already qualified, while Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini all look set to join them.
Nadal currently occupies seventh place in the Race To Turin but if he remains in that position heading into the finals, ninth place will be enough to qualify in the Spaniard’s absence.
So which players are in the running to make their debut at the season-ending showpiece?
The Norwegian, who recently cracked the world’s top ten for the first time, sits eight in the race with 2,675 points – 170 points ahead of Hubert Hurkacz.
As well as winning the Geneva tournament, Ruud won three titles in as many weeks earlier in the season at Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel.
The 22-year-old became the first player to win three titles in as many weeks since Andy Murray in 2011, at Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai (ATP Tour).
He also reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at this year’s Australian Open.
It has been an up-and-down season for the Polish star. He entered Wimbledon off the back of a six-match losing streak, but then defeated Medvedev and Federer on route to the semi-finals.
He also ousted five seeds to win this year’s Miami Masters. The 24-year-old also won the Delray Beach tournament.
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But apart from his run to the Wimbledon last four, Hurkacz has failed to advance beyond the second round at the other three Grand Slams.
As it stands, with Nadal injured and occupying seventh place, Hurkacz would qualify for the ATP Nitto Finals by finishing ninth.
The 21-year-old Canadian star may have yet to win the first singles title of his career but he’s having a very impressive second half of the 2021 season.
After reaching the semi-finals of the US Open and losing to eventual champion Medvedev, Auger-Aliassime has moved up to number 11 in the world, a career-high ranking.
Following a disappointing first-round exit at the French Open, Felix responded by reaching the Stuttgart final before losing to Marin Cilic and making the semi-finals in Halle, beating his boyhood idol Federer en route.
The momentum he built during the grass season enabled him to pull off the biggest win of his career, at Wimbledon against Zverev, to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
Felix currently sits tenth in the Race To Turin on 2,320 points, which is 185 behind Hurkacz.
After capturing the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals title as an 18-year-old, Sinner continues to climb the rankings and make waves in the men’s game.
The Italian has won two titles in 2021, Melbourne 1 and Washington. At Washington, Sinner became the youngest ATP 500 champion and first teenager to win an ATP 500 title since the category was created in 2009 (ATP Tour).
In April, Sinner lost to Hurkacz in the final of the Miami Masters. However, he failed to go beyond the fourth round in any of the Grand Slams this year.
The 20-year-old currently has 2,255 points, which sits him in 11th place for the season and 250 points behind Hurkacz.
Plenty of points up for grabs
Two ATP Masters 100 tournaments remain this season – Indian Wells and Paris.
Alongside the 500 event in Vienna, there are as many as eight 250 tournaments still to play. This gives players fighting for ATP Nitto Finals qualification plenty of chances to gain crucial points.