Drawing: Roberto Bautista Agut

Autographed drawing of tennis player Roberto Bautista Agut

The season-ending ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena gathers the world’s top men’s tennis players in singles and doubles in the final showdown of the year. The top 8 ranked singles players were all present this year plus two alternates in case of injury. They are not always the No. 9 and 10 ranked players, but this year was an exception.

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and the flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils filed the reserve positions respectively. It can be a thankless task, practicing everyday and staying match fit, but not getting to play a match in the unique arena. At the time of writing with one day to go in the pool play before the weekend’s semis and final, neither alternates have been required. Oh, they do get paid for the week’s work – $US116,000 and if they did get to play and win a match, then an extra $US215,000 is deposited into their bank account.

It’s been a great year for Roberto. At 31 and given the young ages of half the field, he’s almost in the veteran category. The quick counterpuncher with a consistent all-court game with nine ATP tour titles broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time, with an impressive set of results, winning the Qatar Open and reaching the quarters at the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

He signed my drawing yesterday after arriving at the North Greenwich pier for yet another practice session, resigned to the fact he probably wasn’t going to get a match, but knowing he’s finished the season as the 9th best male player on the planet.

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