Since the start of the ranking in 1973, only ten players had at least two seasons on the year-end no. 1 position. Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Lleyton Hewitt shined in back-to-back seasons before losing that pace, with John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl ruling the court between 1981-89 for four year-end no.
1 honors for each. Jimmy Connors was the player to beat in the 70s with five consecutive seasons at the top, topping the charts for most years between the first and last year-end no. 1 season with Lendl until Pete Sampras passed them both with six straight years on the ATP throne between 1993-98.
Sampras is the only player with six seasons as the best player on the Tour, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic sharing 15 of the last 16 years there, with all three legends standing on five, just one behind Sampras and tied with Jimmy Connors.
Federer was the one to beat between 2004-09, joining Sampras on six years between the first and last year-end no. 1 award but never managing to repeat that in the previous ten years. Following his first dominant season in 2011 when he conquered the world of tennis, Novak Djokovic moved in front of Federer and Sampras in 2018, spanning eight years between the first and last year-end no.
1 season to stand second behind the leader of the pack Rafael Nadal. As well all know, the Spaniard became year-end no. 1 for the first time in 2008 when he finally ended Federer's streak, staying competitive a decade later to write the record books in 2017 when he conquered the throne for the first time since 2013.
Leaving three mediocre years and injuries behind him, Nadal became the most consistent player on the Tour in the last three seasons, finishing second behind Novak in 2018 and regaining the throne this November to extend his record streak between the first and last year-end no.
1 season to 12! Rafa has been the most consistent player in 2019, failing to reach the semi-final only twice and claiming two Majors and two Masters 1000 crowns, just like Novak Djokovic who missed the chance to pass the Spaniard at the ATP Finals after losing to Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer.
To stay at the top of men's game more than ten years after the first year-end no. 1 season is a true testimony of Nadal's unprecedented desire to draw the best from himself every single day on the tennis court and overcome all the obstacles and chase his dreams.
As we already said, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were the players to beat in 15 of the last 16 years and it should be interesting to follow how things would unfold in 2020, with the younger guys moving closer and closer.