The year end World Number one spot is still up for grabs as we reach the final event of the season. Djokovic trails Nadal by 640 points right now but if both are fit and playing well, it will be fun to watch.
At this point in his career, I don’t think Nadal will push too hard. If he feels a slight twinge, I feel he will take no risks and focus on the new season in January.
Djokovic has a pretty simple task if he wants the year end spot. Win! Become champion without losing racks up 1500 points, so this is by no means out of Djokovic reach.
Roger Federer is not competing for the year end spot, but he could have a big say in where it goes. Federer will meet Djokovic in the group stage Tuesday and possibly again in the final. Djokovic has the H2H lead against Federer 26-22, but Fed can cut that gap with a good performance. Djoko, however, is in good form after winning the Paris Masters and will be a tough ask.
Federer, surprisingly, will play another player against whom he has a losing record, Dominic Thiem (4-2) in the group stage. Thiem is a better clay player, but his chances on hard courts should not be underestimated. Thiem has made gains on hard courts this season, and will hope to get to the semi finals here in London for the first time.
Nadal and Medvedev are the favourites in the Andre Agassi group. Nadal has never won this event and has pulled out many times due to injury. If Nadal is to end the year as world number 1, he has one goal – beat his 3 opponents in the group stage. Nadal has a winning record against all 3 – Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev – and will hope to get through all of them without re-aggravating any of his latest injuries.
Though Djokovic is always favourite, and rightly so, it is worth mentioning last year’s surprise winner Alexander Zverev, because this tournament can be as much about motivation as any on the tour. The younger players have a lot to prove. If the year end number 1 spot is decided early, I don’t expect the veterans to push as hard. An interesting end to the year and a fitting end to a brilliant season.