Novak Djokovic eyeing Rafael Nadal and year-end world No.1 ranking in London


Spaniard Nadal has often struggled physically in London and pulled out of his Paris Masters semi-final against Denis Shapovalov last week citing an abdominal issue when victory would have put him virtually out of reach.

He intends to play in London having been drawn in a round-robin group alongside 2018 ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev and debutants Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

If Nadal fails to win a round-robin match, Djokovic would still need to win two group matches and reach the final to dislodge him. Djokovic will also finish the year as No.1 by winning the title, providing Nadal does not reach the semis.

Djokovic faces a tough group though, with six-time champion Roger Federer, French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem and Italian Matteo Berrettini, the third newcomer in this year’s event, who he will play in Sunday’s opening singles.

“It’s an extremely difficult task considering who my opponents are going to be,” Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic said.

“As a consequence, if I manage to get the year-end number one, that would be fantastic. It is a motivation and a goal every day.”

Federer, ranked third, will be a particularly dangerous obstacle for Djokovic even if he has not added to his ATP Finals title haul since winning in 2011.

Nadal and Djokovic opened the year by meeting in the Australian Open final, won by the Serbian.Credit:Eddie Jim

The Swiss, who has a record 57 match wins at the event, bowed out to Zverev in the semi-finals last year but continues to defy the passing years at the age of 38.

Last month he claimed the Swiss Indoor title without dropping a set. It was his fourth tournament victory in 2019, during which he lost an epic Wimbledon final to Djokovic when he held match points.

The penultimate ATP Finals in London, before it moves to Turin, has a fresh look this year.

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Russian counter-puncher Medvedev has enjoyed an incredible breakthrough year and of the three debutants he looks the most likely to challenge for the title.

He leads the charts in terms of match wins (59) and finals reached (9) and against Nadal in a sensational US Open final proved he has the personality to go toe-to-toe with the giants.

For the fourth successive year there are eight different nations represented in the singles while half of the field are aged 23 or under.

The new wave is arriving, but Djokovic still has unfinished business.

Players with the most year-end ATP Tour No.1 rankings:

  • 6 – Pete Sampras (US)
  • 5 – Novak Djokovic (SRB), Roger Federer (SUI), Jimmy Connors (US)
  • 4 – Rafael Nadal (ESP), Ivan Lendl (CZE), John McEnroe (US)
  • 2 – Lleyton Hewitt (AUS), Stefan Edberg (SWE), Bjorn Borg (SWE)

Reuters

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