Ranking Reaction: Djokovic, Nadal end as Top 2 for third straight year

Ranking Reaction: Djokovic, Nadal end as Top 2 for third straight year

This is also the fifth time in the last 10 years that Djokovic and Nadal finish at No. 1 and No. 2, in some order, on the ATP’s year-end rankings.

The ATP's official year-end rankings will be released on December 7, 2020, but with only Challengers until then, this week's Top 10 will serve as the year-end Top 10—and Novak Djokovic will be the year-end No. 1 for the sixth time in his career, tying his idol, Pete Sampras, for the all-time record.

Djokovic also topped the ATP’s year-end rankings in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

“I’m very happy,” he said after being presented with his year-end No. 1 trophy last week. “It’s been a strange year for all of us with a six-month gap. We restarted the season in August, and I continued where I left off before lockdown and had a terrific run. I’m very pleased with the way things went.”

Among Djokovic's best results since the restart of the tour were winning Cincinnati (in New York) and Rome, which brought his career haul of Masters 1000 titles to 36—passing Rafael Nadal for the record.

Getty Images

And just behind him on the rankings is Nadal, who will finish at No. 2—his 12th time in the last 16 years ending inside the Top 2. Going into the ATP Finals, Nadal hadn’t clinched that spot yet, and he was asked after his first round-robin win about how much year-end rankings matter to him.

“Well, I prefer to finish No. 2 than No. 3,” he said. “But I’ve said since a lot of years ago, I will not play more events that I think go against my body and my future just to try to achieve a better ranking.

“I know I have to play well when I have to play well. And if I am playing well there, that’s going to be my position on the rankings. If it’s second, great. If it’s first, better. If it’s third, still a positive year, no?”

It turned out Nadal didn’t have to do any more winning for a “great” finish. Last Monday, the ATP board of directors voted to allow players to count either their 2019 or 2020 ranking points earned at the season finale, whichever was greater, and that clinched year-end No. 2 for him.

This is the third straight year that Djokovic and Nadal are the year-end Top 2—Djokovic has finished the last three years at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 1, while Nadal finished them No. 2, No. 1 and No. 2. It’s also the fifth time overall that the Serbian and the Spaniard have been the year-end Top 2—they also did it in 2011 (Djokovic was No. 1, Nadal was No. 2) and 2013 (Nadal was No. 1, Djokovic was No. 2).

Getty Images

Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, who effectively tag-teamed Djokovic and Nadal out of the ATP Finals last week, will finish at No. 3 and No. 4, their highest year-end rankings to date. Thiem, who handed Nadal his only round-robin loss of the week and then eliminated Djokovic in the semifinals, has finished in the Top 5 twice before: No. 5 in 2017 and No. 4 in 2019. Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the round robin and Nadal in the semifinals, had his first Top 5 finish last year, at No. 5.

Rounding out the ATP's year-end Top 10 will be No. 5 Roger Federer, No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, No. 8 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Diego Schwartzman and No. 10 Matteo Berrettini. Rublev and Schwartzman will both record their first career Top 10 finishes—they both only recently broke the Top 10 for the first time six weeks ago after Roland Garros, where the Russian reached the quarters (losing to Tsitsipas) and the Argentine went a step further to the semis (losing to Nadal).

The only movement in the Top 100 this week came at the tail end of it, as Slovakia’s Andrej Martin bounced back into the elite—rising from No. 105 to No. 100—after reaching the final of a Challenger in Guayaquil, Ecuador. As a result, Japan’s Yuichi Sugita fell out of the Top 100, from No. 100 to No. 101.