Serbian super star Novak Djokovic came out unchallenged and claimed the year-end no.1 spot as ATP’s top-most ranked player after he defeated Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in his last round-robin league match of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He didn’t even have to play the upcoming semifinal against Japan’s Kei Nishikori. A fortnight ago, he faced the serious possibility of being upstaged by Roger Federer, who looked in murderous form after winning the Basel Indoor tennis tournament in Switzerland. But Djokovic consolidated his claim by winning the BNP Paribas Masters at Paris and enhanced his lead over Federer by several hundred points. At the O2 arena in London, the Serb played brilliant tennis and emerged as the group winner in the first phase round-robin league of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. But that was enough for him to be named as the year-end no.1 player since his ATP point tally became insurmountable. That he went on to win the semifinal and had a walk-over final against Roger federer, became a bonus in the end.
It was for the third year that the 27-year old Djokovic emerged as the ATP’s top tennis player in the year-end ranking. He is already on record to finish at the top in 2011 and 2012 and with the 2014 finish; he has become the seventh player in modern era to do so on more than three occasions. The other illustrious names ahead of Novak Djokovic in the ATP roster are; Pete Sampras, 6 times; Jimmy Connors & Roger Federer, 5 times; Ivan Lendl & John McEnroe, 4 times and Rafael Nadal 3 times. The Serb is also only the fourth such player, who had held, lost and regained the year-end no.1 position after Lendl, Federer and Nadal. Interestingly Nadal has done so on two occasions. As per the ATP’s statistics, 2014 happens to be the 11th season on the trot, which has only featured the big 3 of tennis; Federer (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2009); Nadal (2008, 2009, 2010 & 2013) and Djokovic (2011, 2012 & 2014).
After Djokovic was crowned the season’s top-most tennis player, a small on-court ceremony took place in the 02 arena on November 14. The Serb was presented an impressive ATP World No. 1 trophy on the occasion graced by such greats as; Mats Wilander, Carlos Moya and Boris Becker, who is now Djokovic’s coach. In his small address, Djokovic said; “Being World No. 1 is probably one of the most difficult and biggest challenges that a tennis player can have, so it’s incredibly fulfilling and I’m very happy with this achievement.” Djokovic acknowledged that it was a long year that brought many challenges and it was a matter of great honor to share the feat of so many past legends, who held this trophy before him. ATP executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode was present on the occasion and he said that achieving the year-end no.1 spot was the ultimate achievement in the modern era of professional tennis. He congratulated Djokovic on behalf of the ATP for a phenomenal season and added that since the inception of the rankings in 1973, only 16 players have laid claim to that achievement in 41 years.
Towards the end of the season, Novak Djokovic was pushed all the way by a resurgent Roger Federer but the Serb didn’t yield his ground. After the honor of achieving year-end no.1 rank, Djokovic continued and beat the Japanese sensation Nishikori in a tough semifinal and went on the claim the Barclays ATP world Tour finals after Roger Federer dramatically pulled out of the contest. In winning his eighth World Tour Final, Djokovic became another player to achieve the feat after Ivan Lendl won the Tour Finals in 1985, 1986 and 1987. Incidentally, Djokovic returned to World No.1 after defeating Roger Federer in Wimbledon this year on July 7 and finished the year with 18-5 record against the top 10 players. The Serb had first reached the No.1 mark after his maiden victory in Wimbledon 2011. Since then, he has given the impression of being the game’s most complete player in many aspects.