STARNBERG, November 16, 2019
Rafa Nadal just clinched the Year-End, 2019 No. 1 ranking in the ATP.
Novak Djokovic was right on his heels, but the No. 2’s loss to Rodger Federer is what sealed the deal for Rafael Nadal is a huge favorite over Stefanos Tsitsipas at top sportsbooks like Intertops on Friday.
Ashleigh Barty is the WTA world No. 1 with almost 2000 points to spare. She all of the top competition in the WTA Finals including beating Belinda Bencic, Naomi Osaka, No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 6 Petra Kvitova, and No. 8 Elina Svitolina.
Can anybody top Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty in 2020?
Rafa Versus the Rest
Can Rafael Nadal sustain? He isn’t getting any younger. That said, he is still only 33 and seems to be hitting a second peak. At this point – just before the ATP Tour Finals, he’s won 19 Grand Slams and two World Tour Finals, one in 2010 and one in 2013.
This season has been great for the Spaniard. He’s captured four titles, two of them ATP Masters 1000s and two of the Grand Slams, and at this point in history, he is the oldest professional tennis player to finish No. 1 at the end of the year. But can he accomplish that twice and do it again at 34, making it his 6th No. 1 – 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019?
Now he has tied Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Jimmy Conners for five. If he gets one more, he’ll tie the all-time great, Pete Sampras with six, and be in an even more elite club of just two players in modern history.
But it won’t be easy. Noval Djokovic was the No. 1 until November 4th of 2019, and the only reason that Rafa overtook him is thanks to his longtime rival, Roger Federer handing the Serb a loss. Djokovic is the clear second with 8945 points, well ahead of Federer’s No. 3 ranking with 6190.
But another player to keep an eye on will be the young Russian, Daniil Medvedev. He made World Ranking No. 4. So far he’s taken 7 ATP singles titles along with two ATP Masters 1000s. Rafa actually recently beat the Russian start to keep his ATP Finals hopes alive … Nadal was down 5-1 in the final set that would decide the match, before he saved a match-point and somehow rallied back to victory. It was so close that Rafa actually apologized to Daniil after stealing the win. Afterward, Nadal said, “Honestly, I’ve been really lucky.’
It is likely going to be another battle between Nadal and Djokovic and Medvedal. Perhaps Dominic Theim will be in the mix, the Austrian finished at No. 5. I wonder if Roger Federer will be able to make the top 3 again in 2020? I have my doubts because he started bowing out of tournaments for rest and prep for other tournies this season. If the trend continues, he won’t be able to earn enough points to compete for the year-end world No. 1.
Barty Battles ‘Em All
Ashleigh Barty is by far the most dominant woman in tennis right now. Where No. 5, No. 4, No. 3, and No. 2 are all tightly packed together, she has over 1900 points on Karolina Pliskova, her next nearest competitor.
Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, and Elina Svitolina all finished in the 5000-point range so other than Barty’s No. 1 spot, the rest of the top six was an extremely tight race.
This was the first time in her young career that she has clinched the year-end No. 1. And if we have seen anything from up and coming players is that they tend to repeat and often three-peat the year-end No. 1. Just in the 2000sLindsey Davenport went back to back in 2004 and 2005, Justine Henin went back-to-back the following two years, then in 2010 and 2011 Caroline Wozniaki went back-to-back, starting in 2013 Serena Williams three-peated and most recently Simona Halep repeated in 2017 and 2018.
Ashleigh Barty is on fire, and I would be surprised if she didn’t finish at No. 1 again in 2020.