ATP World Tour Finals Preview

The year end ATP World Tour Finals is a much sought after event. It is not a normal tournament but features the world’s top 8 players, divided into 2 groups of 4 each. Out of the 8, 4 proceed for the semifinals, then 2 for the finals and finally one emerges as the Champion.

The PastРThe event was 1st known as Masters Grand Prix and started in 1970 with the 1st winner being Stan Smith . The event remained the same for as many as 20 years till 1990. Illustrious winners were Ilie Nastase ( 4 times), Mcenroe (Thrice). Lendl (5 times) and Borg ( Twice).  Edberg, Connors, Becker, Manuel Orantes, Vilas and Stan Smith won once each.

From 1990 to 1999 the event was known as the ATP Tour World Championships and the event winners were Sampras ( 5 times), Becker (twice), and Agassi, Stich and Alex Corretza once each.

From 2000 to 2008 It was known as the Tennis Masters Cup, and while Federer won it 4 times, Hewitt won it twice and Djokovic, Nalbandian and Kuerten won it once each. Thereafter from 2009 it is known as the ATP World tour Finals and of the 7 events so far, there are only 3 winners, Djokovic 4 times, Federer 2 times and a surprise winner in Davydenko in 2009.

No surprises that on checking the stats for the event that Federer has the record for maximum entries , as many as 14, with 10 Finals entries. Next were Agassi (13), Lendl (12) and Becker, Connors and Sampras (11 each). Federer has won the event 6 times, maximum for any player. Next is Djokovic, Lendl and Sampras with Five wins each. A big surprise is that 14 time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal has not won it once even, and this is one of the few, if not only blemish of his glittering career. The player with 2nd most Finals is Lendl with 9, with 5 wins and 4 runners up. Lendl’s record is even more incredible as he played all 9 Finals in a row. Sampras too has 5 wins and 3 runners up, while Djokovic has won all the 5 finals which he has played.

The future– Barclays has confirmed that after 2016 they will not continue as sponsors, and the event will have to find a new sponsor. I do not foresee that as a major crisis as the event is much sought after, both by players and spectators, including the valuable TV audience.

The present- This year, both  Federer and Nadal are not there which is a big blow to the event. Federer of course is ranked 16th and in case was not qualifying. However Nadal, was very much there even though he had the worst year of his career. He however opted out to concentrate on 2017 and Thiem got lucky.

The final line up is as folows;

Andy Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Raonic, Monfils, Thiem and Cilic.

Murray, Wawrinka, Monfils and Cilic are in 1 group while Djokovic, Nishikori, Raonic and Thiem are in the other. This works both ways for Djokovic. While his semi final entry may be easier then he will on the other hand have to defeat both Murray and wAWrinka in consecutive matches. It will be a tough task.

If one looks at the 8, only Djokovic has won it earlier. However now suddenly, after seeming to be invincible for almost 2 years he has suddenly seemed disinterested on court and has lost 3 tournaments in a row early. One of them was to Cilic , and it is pertinent that he had as many as 14 consecutive wins over the big server without a single loss.

In Contrast, Murray seems to be in the form of his life, and has captured the world number 1 ranking after a huge span of 666 weeks in which federer, nadal and djokovic had monopolised it. The only small query is that the last 4 wins , including the Wimbledon final is against opponents other than Djo, but well, that certainly is not the Scots fault if Nole loses out earlier than the final. The fact is that Andy Murray looks fit and confident.

The other 6 contenders make for an interesting combination. Any one of them can create mini upsets but apart from Wawrinka i have my doubts as to whether they can go on to win the tournament.

So, let the tournament begin. We will soon see if we have a new 1st time winner in any of the 7 apart from Djo. Or will it be Djo who will shrug off his recent indifferent performances to lift his 6th crown.

There is motivation for both Murray and Djo in the sense that the winner will end the year as Number 1 , and year ending Number 1 is one of the milestones as well for a tennis player. Will that be that little bit of spark required to rejuvenate Djokovic. We will know soon. It will indeed be incredible for tennis if murray and Djo face off, with both knowing that the winner will retain/regain the Number 1 ranking and start 2017 as Number 1. Looking forward.

Meetings are not just eating and cheating.

Meetings are an unavoidable part of day to day work life. They ought to be constructive or they will be reduced to what one of my 1st bosses said “Meeting should not be all about eating and cheating”.

When my boss said this around 15 or so years back, i was puzzled. Seeing the quizzical expression on my face he said “Don’t u think so?”and continued “Aren’t meetings usually about quickly brushing through the agenda, and concentrating on the food served, and whether the meeting is followed by lunch etc and the most important point is only deciding the menu and date of next meeting?”

Unfortunately, what Boss had said then still holds true. Meetings are often about eating and cheating. More time is often spent on deciding the menu than on discussing the agenda items. So it becomes cheating as well.

However, the fact remains that Meetings are an indispensable part of working life. At one place decisions/information can be communicated to many. Ideas can be shared and exchanged. Plane of action can be arrived at. Stock-taking can be done. There are so many other positives which make meetings unavoidable. So lets have a look at what are the various aspects /points which can help to organize meetings in a more efficient manner.

First, have a clear idea on the agenda. Prepare a 1st draft, visit and revisit it several times, then make a final agenda. Communicate it in writing.

Second, decide the list of participants. This is very important. Visualize the need of the agenda, who can contribute and who can make it an effective meeting. Call all of them

Third, decide the venue. Make it a venue which is accessible and convenient to most. The venue should take into account the number of participants as well so that an appropriate size of the room is chosen.

Fourth, Convey the time, venue and agenda well in advance to all the participants so that they can note the date in their calendar and that they can prepare themselves for the agenda items.

Fifth, give a name and telephone number where regrets for non attendance can be given. However also emphasize the importance of the meeting in the original communication itself and that in case of non-attendance alternative participant may be given.

Sixth, One day before the meeting, have a telephone call made to all participants as a reminder. There is no ego about it. Its just a polite reminder considering that all are busy and for genuine reasons the meeting date may have slipped the mind.

Seventh, On the day of the meeting , if you are presiding over the meeting, Do check and and plan and mentally prepare your speech and how you will generally conduct the meeting . Check the physical arrangements , such as chairs, audio-visual system, cordless mikes and so on.

Eighth, Start the meeting on time. Nothing is more exasperating and punishing for people who come to a meeting on time and are made to wait for participants who are late.

Ninth, Keep the meeting focussed and to the point. Stick to the agenda. Request participants to switch cell phones off or at least keep it on silent mode.

Tenth, plan the tea break appropriately. If its a short meeting for say 45 or 50 minutes, you may consider having the tea break at the end of the meeting. However do ensure to keep drinking water in front of each and every participant.

Eleventh point is that plan the seating arrangements carefully and meticulously keeping in view seniority and importance of the participants.

Last but not the least, end the meeting with a positive note. Sum up the proceedings in a few sentences if possible and identify the action points for participants to carry out so that there is clarity. yes, fix the tentative date of next meeting- to be confirmed later in writing.

These 12 points according to me are important and need to be kept in mind while organizing and conducting meetings. Yes, everyone knows these, but I thought its better to keep them at one place, otherwise meetings will be reduced to meeting, eating and cheating.

Do You agree? Any points to add? Please feel free to do so.