Djokovic, Federer & Nadal Lead Packed Race Into 'Moving Season'
It is still early in 2019, but with the top of the ATP Race To London as tight as ever at this point of the year, ‘moving season’ will be even more important.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is trying to finish year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for a record-tying sixth time (also Pete Sampras), currently leads the Race with 2,405 points, mostly thanks to his victory at the Australian Open (2,000 points). But with a maximum of 6,000 points available at four tournaments alone from the Mutua Madrid Open through Wimbledon (Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Wimbledon), there will be plenty of opportunities for players to stake their claim for the top spot or make a move to position themselves to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
The gap between first-placed Djokovic (2,405) and sixth-placed Daniil Medvedev (1,555) is just 850 points. In recent years, it has not been nearly that close.
ATP Race To London Standings
|1. Novak Djokovic||2,405|
|2. Roger Federer||2,280|
|3. Rafael Nadal||2,145|
|4. Dominic Thiem||1,735|
|5. Stefanos Tsitsipas||1,595|
|6. Daniil Medvedev||1,555|
Last year before Madrid, Race leader Roger Federer led second-placed Juan Martin del Potro by 990 points. In 2017, first-placed Federer led No. 2 Nadal by 2,455 points. In 2015 and 2016 the gap between the first two players in the Race was 2,715 and 2,690 points, respectively. So whereas there is typically a bigger gap at the top of the Race, one big tournament can make a major difference for a number of the ATP Tour’s stars.
Closely following current Race leader Djokovic are Miami champion Federer (2,280), Monte-Carlo and Barcelona semi-finalist Nadal (2,145), Indian Wells titlist Dominic Thiem (1,735), reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas (1,595) and Medvedev (1,555).
A year ago, three of those players made a significant charge during ‘moving season’ from Madrid through Wimbledon. Nadal added 3,900 points to climb from third place to top spot in the Race. Djokovic, who entered Madrid 76th in the Race, earned 3,065 points to ascend to fifth place. Thiem, who made the final at Madrid and Roland Garros, added 1,980 points to charge from 11th to sixth.
Notable Points Earned From Madrid Through Wimbledon (2018)
What will give some of the Race’s leaders confidence is that not only are there a lot of points up for grabs over the next two months, but they are already significantly ahead of where they were last year.
Djokovic might not have advanced past the quarter-finals in his past three tournaments, but he still has 2,405 points in the Race, which is 2,115 points more than he had at this point last season. Thiem has 720 more points compared to last year and Tsitsipas has 914 more points.
Federer will also have a big chance to make a move as he gets set to compete on clay for the first time since 2016. The Swiss is scheduled to play clay-court events at Madrid and Roland Garros instead of just competing on grass ahead of the North American hard-court swing.
This stretch will also give players who are off to a slower start this season a chance to claw their way back into Race contention. Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, after losing in the Munich quarter-finals, has just 690 points this year. But in 2018 he claimed 2,050 points from Madrid through Wimbledon. Marin Cilic is trying to reach London for the fifth time, but he is currently 82nd in the Race with 245 points.
The top of the Race may be open now. But after 'moving season', the charge for year-end No. 1 should become clearer.