Roger Federer tops the 2017 ATP World Tour with one Grand Slam title and two Masters 1000 triumphs. As such, he leads the race to London with 4,045 points. Moreover, Federer is a perfect 3-0 against Rafael Nadal this season.
But three months are, well, just three months. With a trio of majors and six Masters 1000 tournaments still remaining on the schedule, everything–including the year-end No. 1 ranking–is still to play for in 2017. And to heck with the end of the year; Federer may not even hold the top spot in the race at the end of this week.
The 35-year-old Swiss has not played since lifting trophies at back-to-back tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. He is skipping the entire clay-court spring other than the French Open, and there is a chance he may not even return for the French. Somewhat understandably, Federer wants to preserve his current good health while also focusing on Wimbledon–an event he has a much better chance of winning for the eighth time in his career than he does of earning a second Roland Garros title.
Since the 18-time slam champion last took the court, Nadal has made mincemeat out of everyone else while racking up 1,500 ranking points (titles in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona). With 3,735 points this season, the Spaniard stands only 310 points behind Federer. Simple math shows that a semifinal showing at the ongoing Mutua Madrid Open would send Nadal to the top spot in the 2017 race. He stayed alive in Madrid by beating Fabio Fognini on Wednesday, but Nick Kyrgios looms in the third round.
If Nadal wins Madrid and Rome next week–and he is obviously favored in both tournaments–he would lead Federer by a whopping 1,690 points going into Roland Garros.
My Top Sportsbooks still has Federer as a slight 3-2 favorite to finish the year No. 1. Nadal is not too far behind at 13-7, while the field–any other player aside from Federer and Nadal–is 3-1.
For the moment, no other player looks like a serious contender. In the overall rankings, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are still enjoying a seemingly comfortable lead at the top two spots. Murray is way out in front with 11,270 points, followed by Djokovic’s 7,085. Stan Wawrinka is next with 5,685, just ahead of Federer (5,125) and then Nadal (4,375). But Murray has a boatload of points to defend on the immediate horizon and Djokovic–who split from his entire support team last week–owns just a single title this year (a 250-pointer in Doha). The second-ranked Serb posted a mere 7-4 record in his last four tournaments prior to Madrid. Wawrinka is 15-7 this season and 3-4 in his last seven matches.
There is absolutely no sign of either Murray or Djokovic suddenly catching fire to the extent that the Scot did last fall. Unless one of them does, the clock is turning back to the glory days of the “Fedal” era and the year-end No. 1 is all coming down to those two all-time greats.
Federer must return to tennis soon because if the King of Clay does what he normally does on the red stuff, this race could be done and dusted before we see green at Wimbledon.