This is the first time, though, that each of those three men spent some time at No. 1 during the same year. The seven changes there were the most since 1999, when there were eight.
They accounted for Nos. 1-3 in the final rankings in 2007-11 and 2014, too.
For Djokovic, it marks the fifth time he has closed a year in the top spot, following 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Only Pete Sampras, with six year-end No. 1 finishes, did it more often.
The 31-year-old from Serbia is also the oldest man to be No. 1 at season’s end and the first to finish atop the rankings after being outside the top 20 during the year — or outside the top 10 at the end of the previous year (he was No. 12 in 2017).
Simona Halep ended the season at No. 1 in the WTA rankings for the second consecutive year; she clinched that spot more than a month ago. Angelique Kerber was No. 2 among women, followed by Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina and Naomi Osaka.
Djokovic overtook Nadal three weeks ago; the Spaniard did not compete anywhere after stopping because of a painful right knee during his U.S. Open semifinal in September against Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal had arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle this month.
Nadal concludes a season at No. 1 or No. 2 for the 10th time, trailing only Federer’s 11.
Federer, meanwhile, is in the year-end top three for a record 14th time. The 37-year-old from Switzerland has won 20 Grand Slam singles championships, the most by a man, followed by Nadal with 17, then Djokovic and the retired Sampras with 14 apiece.
Del Potro was the runner-up at the U.S. Open, Anderson at Wimbledon, Cilic at the Australian Open, and Thiem at the French Open.
Neither Anderson nor Isner ever had finished a year in the top 10, while del Potro is back in that group for the first time since 2013.
French Player United In Defeat With David Cup Overhaul
French players don’t like the new Davis Cup format and they’re saying it loud and clear.
After failing to defend their title this weekend in northern France in a 3-1 loss to Croatia, the French lashed out at future plans adopted earlier this year and Lucas Pouille said he would boycott the competition from now on.
This weekend marked the last time in the 118-year-old competition history that the final was played in a best-of-five matches format and over a three-day weekend. Starting next year, the top team event in men’s tennis will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament at a neutral site.
The International Tennis Federation believes this format, with matches played in best-of-three sets, will be more attractive to elite players who often pass on competing for their countries because of a crowded schedule. The French tennis federation supported the reform.
“I’m extremely sorry because of the ITF decision,” doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert said. “It was the last true Davis Cup.”
Herbert’s partner, Nicolas Mahut, said he spoke with ITF David Haggerty immediately after the final to express his discontent. “I believe he understood very well what I wanted to say,” said Mahut, without giving details.
Lucas Pouille, who was thrashed in straight sets by Marin Cilic on Sunday a year after he wrapped up France’s 10th title, said he would not play in the Davis Cup anymore.
“Last year I was crying of joy, this year I was crying because I was sad,” Pouille said. “I’m not going to change my mind about the new format. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to play in the Davis Cup anymore. That was the last time.”
The ITF said it expects the new format will help generate more money for tennis development around the world. A $3 billion, 25-year deal has been agreed by the ITF with Kosmos, an investment group founded by the Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
Mahut claimed tennis stakeholders should have come up with better solutions.
“There are other means to find money. The Grand Slams tournaments could have given some of their revenues and the Davis Cup would have been saved,” Mahut said. “We needed to find ways to lighten the schedule, we had so many good ideas to save that competition. There were other solutions.”
France’s Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah, who oversaw his last Davis Cup match this weekend and will be replaced by Amelie Mauresmo, is also a fervent opponent of the overhaul.
“It will never be the same, it’s going to be something else,” said Noah, who guided France to three Davis Cup titles. “I really hope this is not going to be called the Davis Cup. Playing two sets is not the Davis Cup. They are lying. I told (Haggerty) to his face I’m disgusted and upset because this is the way I feel. The Davis Cup was so much for me.”