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Djokovic's Paris title sets up a fascinating race for the year-end No. 1 ranking, replete with a thrilling posse of possibilities

ANALYST
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Timeless

Novak Djokovic hoists aloft his record-extending 5th Paris Masters title
Novak Djokovic hoists aloft his record-extending 5th Paris Masters title

Novak Djokovic celebrated the momentous occasion of becoming only the third player in history to play 50 Masters 1000 finals, by winning his 34th Masters 1000 title.

Djokovic's record-extending fifth Paris Bercy title over young Canadian Denis Shapovalov was the 34th Masters 1000 triumph for the Serb, which is just one shy of Rafael Nadal's all-time mark of 35.

With a title run in the French capital, Djokovic slashed his deficit to Nadal in the race for the year-end No. 1 ranking to 640 points.

The Serb trailed the Spaniard by 1280 points entering the final regular tournament of the 2019 season, the Paris Masters. Nadal's walkover in the Paris semifinals owing to an injury meant that the Spaniard collected 360 points for his efforts in the French capital, while Djokovic's 5th title at the tournament meant that the Serb bagged the maximum 1000 points on offer.

Djokovic, who will be deposed as the No. 1 by Nadal today, could claim a record-tying 6th year-end No. 1 under the following scenarios at the season-ending ATP Finals in London next week.

Scenario #1: Nadal does not win a round-robin match, Djokovic wins all 3 round-robin matches and reaches the final

In the event of Nadal going winless in round robin play at the 2019 ATP Finals, the Spaniard would be unable to build on his 640-point advantage over his Serbian rival in the race for the year-end No. 1.

In that case, if Djokovic wins all three of his round-robin matches, the Serb would collect 600 points (200*3) for his efforts. By reaching the final, Djokovic would collect a further 400 points, which would help him overhaul the 640-point deficit to Nadal and claim his 6th year-end No. 1.

Scenario #2: Nadal does not win a round-robin match, Djokovic wins at least 2 round-robin matches and reaches the final

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Like the previous scenario, this scenario also entails the possibility of Nadal going winless in round-robin play at the 2019 ATP Finals.

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This would afford Djokovic the luxury of dropping one round robin match (2*200 = 400 points) en route to the title match. That would give the Serb a total of 800 points (400 points in round robin play and 400 points for a semifinal win), enough to overhaul his deficit to Nadal.

Scenario #3: Nadal wins 1 round robin match and does not reach the semis, Djokovic wins all 3 round robin matches and reaches the final

If the Spaniard avoids a shutout in round-robin play at the 2019 ATP Finals, he would earn 200 points, which would swell his overall lead for the year-end No. 1 over Djokovic to 840 points.

In that case, if Djokovic wins all his 3 round-robin matches and reaches the final, the Serb would earn 1000 points for his efforts, enough to overhaul Nadal's lead over him in the race.

Scenario #4: Nadal wins 1 round robin match and reaches the final, Djokovic wins all 3 round-robin matches and takes the title

In the rare event of Nadal reaching the semifinals at the 2019 ATP Finals after only one round-robin win, the Spaniard would earn 200 points (one round robin win) + 400 points (semifinal win) by reaching the final. That would swell Nadal's lead over Djokovic in the race for the year-end No. 1 to 1240 points (back to what it was at the start of the 2019 Paris Masters).

In this scenario, Djokovic would seal a record-tying 6th year-end No. 1 by going undefeated in round-robin play en route to the title. That would give Djokovic 1500 points (3*200 + 400 + 500), enough to overhaul the 1240-point deficit to Nadal.

It is to be noted that David Nalbandian (2006) and Kei Nishikori (2016) are the only two players in the last 13 years to have reached the ATP Finals last-four after winning only one round-robin match. Both men failed to progress to the final.

Scenario #5: Nadal wins 1 round robin match and reaches the final, Djokovic wins 2 round-robin matches and takes the title

Rolex Paris Masters - Day Seven
Rolex Paris Masters - Day Seven

Similar to Scenario #4 enumerated above, Nadal would earn 600 points by winning one round robin match and reaching the final of the 2019 ATP Finals, for an overall lead of 1240 points over Djokovic for the year-end No. 1.

This scenario would allow Djokovic the luxury of dropping one round-robin match en route to the title, which would give the Serb 1300 points (2*200 + 400 + 500) for his efforts in the British capital. That would be enough to overhaul Nadal's sizeable lead.

Scenario #6: Nadal wins 2 round-robin matches and loses in the semis, Djokovic goes undefeated in round-robin play and takes the title

This scenario would see Nadal earning 400 points for his 2 round-robin wins at the 2019 ATP Finals. But that may not be enough for the Spaniard to clinch a semis berth, if 2 other players in his group also have the same number of wins and they edge out the Spaniard in a 3-way tie.

Even if the Spaniard does make the semis, he would be unable to turn his significant lead into an unassailable one if he fails to reach the final.

In both the above scenarios, Nadal would swell his lead over Djokovic in the year-end No. 1 to 1040 points.

Under the said circumstances, if Djokovic goes undefeated in round-robin play and takes the title, the Serb would earn 1500 points which would be enough to overhaul Nadal's lead, en route to sealing a record-equaling 6th year-end No. 1.

Scenario #7: Nadal wins 2 round-robin matches and loses in the semis, Djokovic wins 2 round-robin matches and takes the title

In this case, Nadal would earn 400 points for his efforts at the 2019 ATP Finals, for an overall lead of 1040 points over Djokovic.

If Djokovic loses one round robin match and goes on to take the title, he would earn a total of 1300 points (2*200 + 400 + 500), which would be enough to usurp Nadal and take the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Scenario #8: Nadal wins 2 round-robin matches and loses in the semis, Djokovic wins 1 round-robin match and takes the title

Similar to scenarios 6 and 7, Nadal would swell his lead over Djokovic in the race for the year-end No. 1 to 1040 points.

That would allow Djokovic the rare luxury of dropping two round-robin matches, qualify for the last 4 and take home the title. This scenario would see Djokovic earn 1100 points (200*1 + 400 + 500), narrowly cancelling out Nadal's significant lead and seal a 6th year-end No. 1.

It is to be noted here that no player in the history of the ATP Finals has endured two round-robin defeats and taken the title. In fact, only Nalbandian (2006) and Nishikori (2016) reached the semifinals after only one round-robin win, and both men lost their respective semifinal matches.

Scenario #9: Nadal wins all 3 round-robin matches and loses in the semis, Djokovic goes undefeated in round-robin play and takes the title

If the Spaniard wins all three round-robin matches at the 2019 ATP Finals, he will earn 600 points for his efforts, thereby swelling his lead over Djokovic in the race for the year-end no. 1 to 1240 points.

In that case, if Djokovic also wins all of his three round-robin matches and takes the title, the Serb would earn 1500 points for his efforts, enough to nullify Nadal's lead and clinch the top spot.

Scenario #10: Nadal wins all 3 round-robin matches but doesn't reach the final, Djokovic wins 2 round-robin matches and takes the title

By going undefeated in round-robin play, Nadal would earn 600 points (200*3) which would increase his lead over Djokovic in the race to 1240 points.

This would allow Djokovic a little margin for error as the Serb wouldn't need to go undefeated in round-robin play. He would be able to afford one round-robin defeat but would need to take the title.

This would give Djokovic 1300 points (200*2 + 400 + 500), narrowly cancelling out Nadal's significant lead and clinch a record-tying 6th year-end No. 1.

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