Nadal, Federer and the race for world No.1

Published by Paul Moore

Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could end the year as world No.1. Photo: Getty Images
Roger Federer’s win at Wimbledon leaves the race for world No.1 finely poised as we move towards the US hard court swing.

It’s getting tight at the top of the ATP tree. With the US Open and a handful of ATP Masters 1000 tournaments remaining, there are five men in contention for the world No.1 spot.

Roger Federer’s win at Wimbledon sees him jump up two places in the ATP rankings to world No.3. However, he is still 920 points behind Rafael Nadal in No.2 position, and 1,205 points behind Murray at the top of the world.

Over the course of the next few months, that could all change.

ATP rankings (week starting 17th July 2017)
Rank Name Points Points to defend
1 Andy Murray 7,750 5,460
2 Rafael Nadal 7,465 370
3 Roger Federer 6,545 0
4 Novak Djokovic 6,325 3,740
5 Stan Wawrinka 6,140 2,990

It’s seemingly only a matter of time before Andy Murray surrenders his place as world No.1 to Nadal. The Brit has to defend over 70% of his points in the coming months, having gone on a record-breaking tear in 2016. After last year’s victory at Wimbledon Murray played eight events, winning six, with his only defeats coming in the quarterfinals of the US Open and the final of Cincinnati (note: the Olympics was non-point scoring in 2016).

Based on Murray’s current (published) schedule, he will only play five events to the end of 2017. As a result, even if he wins all of the tournaments that he enters he will drop points and so his ranking will fall.

Top 5 player schedules         
Date Murray Nadal Federer Djokovic Wawrinka
7-Aug Rogers Cup Rogers Cup Rogers Cup Rogers Cup Rogers Cup
13-Aug Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati
28-Aug U.S Open U.S Open U.S Open U.S Open US Open
2-Oct Beijing Beijing Tokyo
8-Oct Shanghai Shanghai Shanghai Shanghai
23-Oct Basel Basel Basel
30-Oct Paris Paris Paris Paris

Nadal, meanwhile, has very little to defend. After skipping Wimbledon in 2016, the Spaniard played just four more ATP tournaments, amassing 370 points in total. The rejuvenated world No.2 is scheduled to play seven tournaments through the remainder of 2017 and, barring injury or a blip in form, should comfortably amass the points required to take the top spot from Murray.

Then there is Federer.

The Wimbledon champion is 1,205 points off the top spot and trails Nadal by 920 points. Coming off his extended break through the clay season, Federer said that he intends to play a full schedule for the remainder of the year. However, that schedule is identical to Nadal’s, meaning that Federer will have to do better than the Spaniard at pretty much every tournament that they contest to become world No.1 again.

ATP rankings points distribution
Tournament Win Runner-up Semifinal Quarterfinal
Grand Slam 2000 1200 720 360
Masters 1000 1000 600 360 180
500 Series 500 300 180 90
250 Series 250 150 90 45

Meanwhile, the door is still slightly open for Stan Wawrinka – who has seven events scheduled for the rest of 2017 – to make a run for world No.1. Like Murray, Wawrinka would need to win every tournament that he plays, and hope that results go his way for the remainder of the season.

Of the top five, Novak Djokovic seems the least likely to reclaim the top spot in 2017. After suffering from a recurrence of his shoulder injury at Wimbledon, the Serb is widely expected to take some time away from the game. What’s more, according to his official website he is only scheduled to play three tournaments for the remainder of the season.

All of this sets the stage for an intriguing run-in to the ATP World Tour Finals in November. The No.1 was settled there in 2016, and it is feasible that the same will happen this year.

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