Andy Murray capped off a distinguished post-US Open run on Sunday with a victory over Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals. The straight-sets victory gave Murray his 9th title of the season and his 5th alone since losing in the US Open quarterfinals to Kei Nishikori. Furthermore, Murray finishes the season with an excellent record of 78-9. That his body held up over 2016, a year where Rafael Nadal‘s and Novak Djokovic’s did not, is a testament to the Scot’s durability.
“It’s a very special day, playing against Novak in a match like this,” said Murray of the final in London. “We’ve played in Grand Slam finals, Olympics and matches like this – it’s been a tough rivalry. I’ve lost many of them, but I am happy to have got the win today to clinch the year-end No. 1.”
The off-season for tennis is the shortest in sports, I believe. There’s still the 2016 Davis Cup final to be played between Argentina and Croatia in late November. Other than that there are only exhibition events/matches between now and the new year. But tour-level events really aren’t that far off despite being at the start of the off-season. The South Pacific swing starts in the first week of January as part of the build up to the 2017 Australian Open. Tournaments will be held in Brisbane, Sydney, and Auckland in the South Pacific region. Chennai and Doha will also host events in India and Qatar.
Those events can shake rankings up a little bit, but they are usually only significant for the outer rankings. Melbourne Park is where the next major swing in ranking points could take place.
Murray, who made the final last season there, may yet emerge as the betting favorite for the tournament. It looks as though he’ll be the No. 1 seed in the event, one that he has lost in the final no less than five times. It seems as though he has reason to be optimistic about winning the 2017 title given his recent form. However, two months off for Djokovic may very well cure the Serb of any ailments that have bothered him for what seems like months now. If Djokovic returns at the start of 2017 fully fit then the Serb will be much more dangerous than he has been lately.
In winning the year-end World No. 1 ranking, Murray guaranteed that he would not be a flash-in-the-pan World No. 1 like a few others before him. His third week at top spot starts today (Monday, November 21st) and with it; he passes Carlos Moya on the cumulative list total, a player who was ranked No. 1 for two weeks. It will be ten weeks before the rankings update post-Australian Open so Murray should add at least all those weeks to his total.
Accordingly, between now and then he will pass Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marcelo Rios, Thomas Muster, Juan Carlos Ferrero, John Newcombe, Marat Safin, and Boris Becker. Furthermore, with main competitor Djokovic having nothing to gain at the 2017 Aussie, Murray should also pass Andy Roddick (13 weeks) and maybe Mats Wilander (20 weeks) on the all-time cumulative list.