When Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the final of the ATP World Tours Final tournament, it proved that the old guard are still dominating the tennis circuit with few players currently capable of challenging their continued supremacy. Andy Murray prevented the dominant duo from winning all four grand slam tournaments but he appears to be the sole competitor who will provide a worthwhile challenge next season.
The ATP final was perhaps a fitting climax to a season in which Serb Djokovic and Spaniard Nadal have finished first and second in the world rankings. That Nadal has only won one of his previous 60 titles on an indoor hard court probably counted against him in his straight sets loss to Djokovic, but two grand slam wins and a host of other titles have confirmed his number one position.
With a scheduled break before the Australian Open in January, it may be time to consider whether next season can produce any significant challenges to the main two protagonists.
Juan Martin Del Potro and David Ferrer have both shown glimpses of their capabilities in the later stages of the season but neither has produced the tournament victories on a consistent basis in recent years. Del Potro has indeed lost seven times in his previous eight contests with Djokovic whereas Ferrer seems destined to be the eternal bridesmaid and at 31 year of age, time is not on his side.
We may have already witnessed the best days of Roger Federer, who has just experience his worst season in 12 years, while Andy Murray has only just recovered from back surgery and will hope to prove his fitness in time for the new season.
For Murray, 2014 will be the year when he needs to prove that he can move on from his 2013 Wimbledon triumph. After winning both the Olympics and US Open in the previous season, his straight sets victory over Djokovic in July was arguably the pinnacle of his career to date. Adding more grand slam victories and challenging the dominance of the front two will show that his motivation is still intact.
It will be no easy task as the ATP final provides indication that Nadal and Djokovic are relentless in their pursuit of further glory and as they are aged 27 and 26 years old respectively they will foresee several more season at the top of their game.
Although the top two ranking players in the world always provide enthralling clashes whenever they meet on a tennis court, the form guide suggests that 2014 may yield more of the same unless other worthwhile contenders can aspire to a higher level.