Tennis

Rafael Nadal ends year as No. 1 for fifth time

AFP-JIJI

Rafael Nadal was confirmed as the year-end world No. 1 for the fifth time after the ATP released its season-closing rankings on Monday.

The Spaniard did not make it beyond the group stage of last week’s ATP Finals in London, but Novak Djokovic’s failure to reach the semifinals meant Nadal closed the year with 9,985 points, 840 clear of the Serb.

Nadal draws level with rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have also finished the year in top spot five times, and moves one behind six-time end-of-year No. 1 Pete Sampras.

Nadal and Djokovic have been this year’s two dominant players after winning two Grand Slams each.

Djokovic won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with Nadal cleaning up at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open.

Federer ends the season at No. 3 for the second year running. The Swiss, who turned 38 in August, has cut down his ATP Tour commitments to focus on events around Grand Slams.

He reached the semifinals of the French Open where he lost to Nadal and the last eight at Flushing Meadows where he lost in five sets to world No. 20 Gregor Dimitrov.

In between, he lost an epic Wimbledon final against Djokovic, the first to be decided by a tiebreak in the fifth set, suggesting that he still has hopes of a 21st major title in 2020.

Dominic Thiem, who took a set off Nadal in the final of the French Open, moves up to No. 4 after reaching the final of the ATP Finals where he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 21-year-old Greek closes the year at nNo. 6, just behind Daniil Medvedev, after his triumph in London.

Former world No. 1 Andy Murray began the year ranked at 240 and the prospect of retirement.

As he struggled with surgery on a hip injury and the subsequent recuperation he had slipped to 503 in September before a dramatic return to the courts, which produced a remarkable victory at the European Open in Antwerp, lifted him to a year-end 126.