The five ways Djokovic can finish ahead of Nadal for year-end No. 1

The five ways Djokovic can finish ahead of Nadal for year-end No. 1

At a minimum, Djokovic needs to reach the final this week to have a shot.

The Top 8 players in the ATP rankings are fighting for season-ending glory at the Nitto ATP Finals this week, but for two of them, there’s even more to play for in London: the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Going into the ATP Finals, current No. 1 Rafael Nadal leads current No. 2 Novak Djokovic by 640 points—9,585 to 8,945. But with up to 1,500 points up for grabs this week, anything can happen.

For every win in the round-robin portion of the tournament, a player earns 200 points; a semifinal win is worth 400 points; and a final win is 500 points. An undefeated champion earns 1,500 points.

Djokovic kicked off the battle on Sunday, winning his first round-robin match against Matteo Berrettini, earning 200 points for that win, cutting Nadal’s lead to 440 points. On Monday, Nadal dropped his first round-robin match to defending champion Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic needs to reach the final this week to have a shot at finishing the year at No. 1. Here's what else needs to happen:


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Five scenarios that can push Djokovic past Nadal for the year-end No. 1 ranking:

1. Djokovic reaches final with two round-robin wins, and Nadal gets zero round-robin wins.
2. Djokovic reaches final with three round-robin wins, and Nadal gets a maximum of one round-robin win.
3. Djokovic wins title with one round-robin win, and Nadal gets a maximum of two round-robin wins.
4. Djokovic wins title with two round-robin wins, and Nadal doesn’t reach final or Nadal reaches final with only one round-robin win.
5. Djokovic wins title with three round-robin wins, and Nadal doesn’t reach final or Nadal reaches final with a maximum of two round-robin wins.

“It is up for grabs for both of us,” Djokovic told ATPTour.com. “He’s in a better position, but after winning Paris-Bercy, I put myself in a pretty good position. Obviously it doesn’t depend only on me, but I’ll try to focus on my matches and obviously right from the beginning, out of the blocks, you have to start with a real intensity and quality of tennis because it’s the elite eight players of the world.”

Djokovic has finished as year-end No. 1 five times, in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. If he does it a sixth time, he will tie childhood idol Pete Sampras for the record of most year-end No. 1 finishes. The Serb is currently in a three-way tie for second place alongside Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer.

Nadal is trying to finish at No. 1 for the fifth time, having done it in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017.

“Of course, I would love to be the year-end No. 1. I would love to be equal with Roger and Novak,” Nadal said. “To play here is always a special thing. I’m excited to be back in London in one of the great events of the year, and I’m going to try my best to keep producing chances to compete well.”

The Spaniard comes to London as a bit of an unknown quantity, having had to withdraw before his semifinal match at the Masters 1000 event in Paris a few weeks ago due to an abdominal injury.

 


Londero makes Top 50 debut in new ATP rankings

Though there were no tour-level events that offered up rankings points this past week, there was still movement on the ATP rankings after some players had points from last year’s results falling off.

One of those players was Alexander Bublik, who dropped from No. 48 to No. 58 when his points from winning an ATP Challenger in Bratislava came off the books. That caused a string of 10 players between No. 49 and No. 58 to move up one spot each, including Juan Ignacio Londero, who rose from No. 51 to No. 50, his Top 50 debut. The Argentine has had a breakthrough season, highlighted by his first ATP title in Cordoba, and reaching the second week of a major for the first time at Roland Garros.