The legendary trio, who haven’t let anyone else into the Top 3 for even a week in over six months, had previously finished as the year-end Top 3 in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2018.
Federer was asked at the Nitto ATP Finals about other players breaking their domination in 2020.
“Does it feel like this year might be the best year yet? Possibly,” he said. “Then the only issue is that it seems like me, Novak and Rafa are healthy, healthier than maybe in previous years, as well, because remember when Novak had the elbow injury, Rafa had the knee, I had the knee myself, or the back.
“But I look at who finished No. 1 all these years, and it’s crazy it’s always one of us. So other players’ chances increase not because we are getting worse, but because they are getting better, I believe.”
It’s a particularly historic year-end No. 1 finish for Nadal, who, at 33, becomes the oldest year-end No. 1 in ATP history. It’s also his fifth year-end No. 1 finish, tying him with Federer and Djokovic, as well as Jimmy Connors, for second-most year-end No. 1 finishes. Pete Sampras holds the record with six.
“For me of course it’s important to share five years with Novak and Roger. I cannot complain,” he said. “But at some point I feel that there were a couple of years out there that I had big chances to be the year-end No. 1 and I got injured. So this gives me very personal satisfaction, because I’ve had the chance to equal both of them after missing a couple of years because of injuries, and it means a lot.”
Coincidentally, the Spaniard is also spending his milestone 200th career week at No. 1 this week.
Djokovic has now finished eight of the last nine years at either No. 1 or No. 2. The Serb was No. 1 almost all year this year before dipping to No. 2 four weeks ago when Nadal took the top spot back.
Federer, the year-end No. 3, has now finished 15 years in the Top 3, a record. It’s also his record 17th overall Top 10 finish—he had previously been tied with Connors and Andre Agassi for that record.
There’s encouraging news for the next generation of top players, too. Last year there were only two 20-somethings in the year-end Top 8—Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem. This year there are five, with Zverev and Thiem being joined by Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.
The youngest player in the year-end Top 100 is 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan—as well as five ATP Challenger titles—and wrapped up the year at No. 78.
A little further down the rankings, 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic became the first 40-something to finish in the year-end Top 100 since Connors back in 1992. The former No. 14 finished the year at No. 95.
And it’s been a very strong year for US tennis, too. There are five Americans in the year-end Top 50, tied for the most of any country alongside France and Spain. Those five Americans are No. 19 John Isner, No. 32 Taylor Fritz, No. 36 Reilly Opelka, No. 44 Sam Querrey and No. 47 Frances Tiafoe.
Isner, who spent most of the first half of 2019 in the Top 10, is celebrating his 10th straight year-end Top 20 finish. The only other players to finish the last 10 years in the Top 20: the Big 3.
“If you told me that when I first turned pro, I would have laughed in your face. I would have laughed in your face if you told me I’d finish in the Top 20 just one year,” Isner told ATPTour.com. “That I’ve now done it 10 years in a row speaks to a high level of consistency. It takes a lot of time and dedication.”
Isner has also finished seven of the last eight years as the top-ranked American.
With Tennys Sandgren, Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul finishing the year at No. 68, No. 85 and No. 90, the US has eight total players in the year-end Top 100. France leads that category with 12.