Nadal, Djokovic Renew Year-End No. 1 Battle In Paris
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the top two players in the ATP Rankings, return to action at next week’s Rolex Paris Masters. It is a critical moment in the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking, with two very different narratives potentially to be written based on results from the season's final ATP Masters 1000 tournament of 2019.
Nadal controls his own destiny and could clinch year-end No. 1 with a title. However, if he lifts his fifth trophy in Bercy, Djokovic can claw closer to the Spaniard and put himself in prime position to sneak out the season-ending top spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Nadal currently has the edge with a 1,280-point lead in the ATP Race To London — which acts as a barometer for who will finish year-end No. 1 — over the Serbian. But with 1,000 points up for grabs in Paris and a maximum of 1,500 available at the Nitto ATP Finals,is very much alive.
Nadal, if he triumphs at the Rolex Paris Masters for the first time, could put the battle out of reach, guaranteeing that he will finish year-end No. 1 for the fifth time, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors at that mark. If Nadal triumphs in Paris, an undefeated run by Djokovic at The O2 would still not be enough to see the Serb finish in top spot.
But if Djokovic captures his 34th ATP Masters 1000 title, he will put plenty of pressure on Nadal heading into the season finale in London from 10-17 November. Although Nadal, the all-time Masters 1000 title leader (35) has not lost his opener at this level since 2016 Shanghai, doing so would allow Djokovic to pull within 280 points in the Race with a trophy.
A sixth year-end No. 1 finish for Djokovic would be historic, as he’d equal Pete Sampras’ all-time record for most year-end finishes atop the ATP Rankings. He could potentially face his Shanghai conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals. Daniil Medvedev, who has lifted the past two Masters 1000 trophies, is also in his half of the draw.
This will be Nadal’s first tournament since his US Open win, and he will face tricky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier/special exempt in his opener. Federer is in his half of the draw. Nadal has not made the final of this event since 2007.
Regardless of how Djokovic and Nadal perform in Paris, Nadal will arrive at The O2 as the new World No. 1. Although Djokovic currently owns a 320-point lead in the ATP Rankings, Nadal will reclaim the title on 4 November when the Serbian drops 600 points from his runner-up finish in Paris last year and an additional 1,000 points from reaching the championship match of last year’s Nitto ATP Finals.
No other player is in contention for year-end No. 1.