Daniil Medvedev, the reigning US Open Champion, bowed out of the BNP Paribas Open with a stunning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. That result is particularly beneficial to Novak Djokovic, who is now within touching distance of finishing as the year-end No. 1 for a record-breaking seventh time.
It wasn't long ago that Medvedev beat Djokovic at Flushing Meadows to claim his first Major title. Had Medvedev won the Indian Wells Masters too, his chances of reaching the World No. 1 spot would have been pretty high.
However, his defeat in the desert means he now has to hope for a miracle.
Daniil Medvedev is currently at 9,630 points in the ATP rankings, while Novak Djokovic is at 11,430. More significantly, Medvedev is at 6,470 points in the live race to Turin, exactly 1,900 points behind the Serb who is at 8,370. Since the year-end No. 1 ranking will be determined by the 2021 race rather than the rolling ranking, the Russian needs to get 1,900 points more than Djokovic to usurp the top spot by the end of the year.
As a basic mathematical caulcation will tell you, Medvedev had the chance to bridge the gap to 990 points if he had won Indian Wells. Now, however, he has the difficult task of having to significantly outperform Djokovic in the remaining three events he is scheduled to play - St. Petersburg, Paris and the ATP Finals.
There is a total of 3,000 points on offer at these three events combined, so Daniil Medvedev making up the 1,900-point deficit is theoretically possible. But the important point to note is that if Novak Djokovic plays Paris and Turin, he won't have to do much to cement his No. 1 spot.
If Djokovic reaches the final of the Paris Masters and the semis of the ATP Finals, it would mean Medvedev has to win Paris, Vienna and Turin (the last one without losing a single match) to overtake the Serb. Needless to say, that is a borderline impossible task.
As of this moment, Novak Djokovic is scheduled to return to the tour at the Paris Masters. Djokovic hasn't played since his loss to the US Open, but recent reports suggest he isn't ready to call it a season yet.
If the Serb goes on to win the Paris title, it would seal the year-end No. 1 spot no matter what Daniil Medvedev does. Djokovic has won Paris five times so far, so he would be a clear favorite to lift the trophy this year too.
Given that the Paris Masters is important to both the World No. 1 and the World No. 2, the fans would be hoping to see a rematch of the US Open final at Bercy. The tournament is scheduled to be held from 1 to 7 November, and it could well be the most intriguing edition in years.
Novak Djokovic sealing the year-end No. 1 ranking for a seventh time would be a truly historic feat as it would break the record tie he currently shares with Pete Sampras. He would also extend his record tally of weeks at No. 1 to 353 weeks in the process, making it virtually impossible for any player to surpass him in the near future.