Novak Djokovic secures the ultimate ranking record as the oldest..

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Novak Djokovic secures the ultimate ranking record as the oldest..

The ATP ranking system was introduced in 1973 and the first year-end number 1 was Ilie Nastase ahead of John Newcombe and Jimmy Connors. Over the course of the next 45 years, there were 17 different year-end number 1 players and only four since 2004, as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have stolen all the glory to dominate the men's tennis in the last 15 years or so.

Pete Sampras is the leader of the pack with six years at the top, finishing as the year-end number 1 between 1993-1998 to leave Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Jimmy Connors on five. Only seven players have managed to wrap up the season on the ATP throne more than twice and that honor has been reserved for the finest players in the Open era.

Rafael Nadal was the year-end champion in 2017 and he looked like the first pick in 2018 as well, spending the most of the weeks ranked as the number 1 before he was forced to end his season at the US Open, struggling with a right knee, abdomen and a right ankle injuries that allowed Novak Djokovic to catch him and finish the season as the world's leading player for the fifth time in his career, the first since 2015.

Novak has joined the special list of players who have achieved this and at the age of 31 years and seven months he is also the oldest year-end number 1 since the start of the ranking 45 years ago (a few weeks older than Nadal in 2017)! No one could have believed this after the opening four months of 2018, with just six ATP wins on Novak's tally before Rome where he started to raise his form and get back to his best at Wimbledon where he won the first Major crown in two years.

The rest is pretty much the history and Novak went on to win Cincinnati, US Open and Shanghai, earning enough points in Paris to move ahead of Nadal and cementing his lead before the start of 2019 with four wins at the ATP Finals in London.

In addition, Novak is the first year-end number 1 player who has been ranked outside the Top 20 during that season and he completed one of the biggest comebacks in modern tennis to secure the place among the immortals once again.

Between 1973-1989, only six players had ended as the year-end number 1, including the dominant runs of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Connors and McEnroe did that at the age of 22 while Lendl managed to wrap up the season at the top when he was 29 years and nine months old, standing as the oldest player until the last year when Rafael Nadal passed him to become the first player to break the magical number of 30.

After Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier who were at the top for three years, Pete Sampras had become the leader of the pack in 1993, notching six consecutive years as the year-end number 1 to write history and pass Jimmy Connors who stayed on five.

In 1999, Andre Agassi overpowered the compatriot for the first end only year-end number 1 season, just two months younger than Ivan Lendl 10 years earlier. Lleyton Hewitt was the player to beat in 2001 and 2002 and he is the youngest year-end number 1 player in the history of the rankings, standing at 20 years and 10 months in 2001.

Andy Roddick was another youngster who conquered the tennis world in 2003 and it was Roger Federer who took charge in 2003, finishing as the leading player in five of the next six seasons between the age of 23 and 28. Rafael Nadal was the best in 2008, 2010 and 2013 and it was Novak Djokovic who started his journey in 2011, dominating the men's tennis in the following seasons to stand on four year-end number 1 finishes until 2015.

Andy Murray was the one who ended Novak's run in 2016 with a great finish of the year (the third oldest year-end player behind Lendl and Agassi) and they were both sidelined in 2017, allowing Nadal to claim the throne for the first time since 2013.

The Spaniard had become the first player in the history of the rankings who earned the year-end number 1 position after turning 30 and Novak has now moved ahead of him, sitting at the top of the record lists at the age of 31 years and seven months. The age of the year-end number 1 players since 1973 (the last Monday of the year):

1973 - Ilie Nastase (27y 5m)
1974 - Jimmy Connors (22y 3m)
1975 - Jimmy Connors (23y 3m)
1976 - Jimmy Connors (24y 3m)
1977 - Jimmy Connors (25y 3m)
1978 - Jimmy Connors (26y 3m)
1979 - Bjorn Borg (23y 6m)
1980 - Bjorn Borg (24y 6m)
1981 - John McEnroe (22y 10m)
1982 - John McEnroe (23y 10m)
1983 - John McEnroe (24y 10m)
1984 - John McEnroe (25y 10m)
1985 - Ivan Lendl (25y 9m)
1986 - Ivan Lendl (26y 9m)
1987 - Ivan Lendl (27y 9m)
1988 - Mats Wilander (24y 4m)
1989 - Ivan Lendl (29y 9m)
1990 - Stefan Edberg (24y 11m)
1991 - Stefan Edberg (25y 11m)
1992 - Jim Courier (22y 4m)
1993 - Pete Sampras (22y 4m)
1994 - Pete Sampras (23y 4m)
1995 - Pete Sampras (24y 4m)
1996 - Pete Sampras (25y 4m)
1997 - Pete Sampras (26y 4m)
1998 - Pete Sampras (27y 4m)
1999 - Andre Agassi (29y 7m)
2000 - Gustavo Kuerten (24y 3m)
2001 - Lleyton Hewitt (20y 10m)
2002 - Lleyton Hewitt (21y 10m)
2003 - Andy Roddick (21y 3m)
2004 - Roger Federer (23y 4m)
2005 - Roger Federer (24y 4m)
2006 - Roger Federer (25y 4m)
2007 - Roger Federer (26y 4m)
2008 - Rafael Nadal (22y 6m)
2009 - Roger Federer (28y 4m)
2010 - Rafael Nadal (24y 6m)
2011 - Novak Djokovic (24y 7m)
2012 - Novak Djokovic (25y 7m)
2013 - Rafael Nadal (27y 6m)
2014 - Novak Djokovic (27y 7m)
2015 - Novak Djokovic (28y 7m)
2016 - Andy Murray (29y 7m)
2017 - Rafael Nadal (31y 6m)
2018 - Novak Djokovic (31y 7m)