#TBT: The last time the ATP Race was this close? The 2002 Paris Masters
It's been over 10 years since the ATP went into its final week of the regular season with as much at stake as this year’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris-Bercy. At the start of the tournament, there were four open spots up for grabs for the ATP World Tour Finals -- the most since 2002. That year there were six qualifying spots on the line in Paris for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai.
As the tour finished its season in Paris in 2002, only two spots for the Masters Cup had been secured. No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt had secured his spot after winning titles in Wimbledon and Indian Wells. No. 2 Andre Agassi was trying to chase him down for the year-end top ranking, and had qualified for the Masters Cup after three titles in Miami, Rome, and Madrid. The rest of the eight-man field for Shanghai was unconfirmed. Here's how the ATP Champions Race (as it was called then) looked before Paris:
- Lleyton Hewitt - qualified
- Andre Agass - qualified
- Marat Safin - 469 pts
- Juan Carlos Ferrero - 467 pts
- Jiri Novak - 446 pts
- Roger Federer - 433 pts
- Tim Henman - 428 pts
- Carlos Moya - 421 pts
- Albert Costa - 393 pts
- Tommy Haas - 389 pts
- Andy Roddick - 384 pts
- David Nalbandian - 348 pts
- Thomas Johannsson - 330 pts (Australian Open champion)
**The top seven players in the ATP Champions Race 2002 as of November 4, 2002, qualified for the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai. The eighth position could've been decided by either a current Grand Slam winner who isn’t in the Top 8 but within the Top 20, or the eighth player in the ATP Champions Race.
The 2002 BNP Paribas Masters were played on indoor carpet, as opposed to the hard courts laid down today. Back then the ATP did not use tournament points to calculate the ATP Champions Race, which made for some additional calculations.
Here's how the points broke down at the ATP Masters 1000s and the Slams (at all other tournaments a player received 5x per round total):
ATP Masters 1000
100 = Winner
70 = Finalist
45 = SF
25 = QF
15 = 3R
7 = 2R
1 = 1R
200 = Winner
140 = Finalist
90 = SF
50 = QF
30 = 4R
15 = 3R
7 = 2R
1 = 1R
The biggest casualty in Paris was Henman. He came into the tournament in seventh place but failed to qualify for Shanghai after losing in the third round to French wildcard Nicolas Escude. Moya qualified by beating Agassi in the quarterfinals and moved up three spots to No. 5. It also eased some of the pressure off Federer, who beat Haas in the third round and then lost to Hewitt 6-4, 6-4. That was enough to secure the No. 6 spot for Federer, who qualified for the year-end championships for the first time.
Johannsson went into the tournament at 14th in the Race, but still had a chance to qualify if he could catch Costa. The ATP rules allowed the eighth position to go to a reigning Slam champion who remained ranked in the top 20. Going into Paris, that position belonged to Costa, but Johannsson could steal if (1) he could finish the season ranked ahead of Costa or (2) Costa could push in to the top seven to qualify outright, leaving the Slam exemption to the Swede. Costa lost in his opening match in Paris to Escude. But the Johannsson couldn't capitalize and lost to No. 2 Agassi in the third round in three sets. He would head to Shanghai as an alternate instead.
In the end it was Hewitt, Safin, Moya and Paradorn Srichaphan in the semifinals. Srichaphan beat Roddick in the quarterfinals to end the American's outside chance at qualifying for his first Masters Cup. Hewitt beat Srichaphan 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to his sixth final of the season and Safin beat Moya 7-5, 7-6 (4). In the final it was Safin who got the better of the No. 1, beating Hewitt 7-6 (4), 6-0, 6-4 (Masters finals were played best-of-five) to win his only title of the season.
Watch the final below:
After Paris, this was the field for the Shanghai Masters Cup:
- Agassi (withdrew in round robin play with injury)
- Johansson (replaced Agassi as an alternate)