Nadal virtually assured of year-end top rank

Reuters
It is a far cry from last year when the year-end ranking was decided in the last match of the season at London's O2 Arena when Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic to seal it.
Reuters
Reuters

Switzerland's Roger Federer eats pizza with ball kids after defeating Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 in the Swiss Indoors final in Basel on October 29, 2017. The home favorite, who worked as a ball boy in Basel, claimed his eighth Swiss Indoors title. Federer pulled out of this week's Paris Masters to all but end his chances of snatching the year-end world No. 1 spot from Rafael Nadal.

A hoped-for fight to the finish for the year-end No. 1 ranking at next month's ATP World Tour Finals in London will likely be a coronation for Rafael Nadal, who is virtually guaranteed ending 2017 top of the pile.

Roger Federer's eighth Swiss Indoors title on Sunday reduced the points gap on the Spaniard to 1,460 points, but his subsequent withdrawal from this week's Paris Masters means Nadal is poised to finish top for the fourth time in his career.

With 1,500 points available in London for winning the title, having won all three round-robin matches, the 31-year-old Nadal needs to win just one round in Paris to put himself out of reach of the 19-time grand slam champion.

It is a far cry from last year when the year-end ranking was decided in the last match of the season at London's O2 Arena when Scot Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic of Serbia to seal it.

"My body is asking for a break," 36-year-old Federer, who beat Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 in Basel to claim his 95th career title, said of his decision to give up the chase of Nadal.

"Basel takes a lot out of me emotionally. I had five matches in six days. I feel sorry and sad for Paris.

"I'd like to be fully fit for London (the World Tour Finals) and for 2018.

"I did think about the ranking, but I'm so far back in the points race that it was almost out of the question."

Spain's Nadal, who shared this year's grand slam titles with Federer, winning a 10th French Open and third US Open title while the Swiss took the Australian and Wimbledon titles, starts his Paris campaign against young South Korean Chung Hye-on.

Federer has finished the year as No. 1 five times, one less than record-holder Pete Sampras of the United States.

Nadal said on Monday that he is ready to consolidate his year-end No. 1 ranking by winning his opening match at the Paris Masters.

But the 31-year-old Spaniard refused to hype up his potential coronation.

"I need to win a match. I'm here to try my best — as in every tournament," he said before starting as top seed in the event.

"Hopefully if this (No. 1) happens, it will be something important for me.

"But the season is not over and it's not the moment to think much about that.

"I'll just try to think about trying to have the right preparation for the tournament and then try to be ready for the first match."


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