The 31-year-old Novak Djokovic had a terrible start of the season, winning just six matches prior to Rome and failing to reach the level he had before the injury that sidelined him from the second part of 2017. That all started to change in the second half of May and June when he started an amazing comeback from outside the Top 20, winning Wimbledon and continuing in the same style in Cincinnati, US Open and Shanghai to earn a huge amount of points and catch Rafael Nadal in the ATP Race.
Only 35 points separated two great rivals on the list prior to Paris and Novak secured the number 1 spot when Rafael Nadal decided to withdraw due to an injury, advancing into the title match to grab 600 points and become world number 1 for the first time in exactly two years when he lost a close battle with Andy Murray for the year-end number 1 position in 2016. Rafael Nadal ended his reign just four weeks shy of the milestone number of 200 and it will be hard for him to regain it anytime soon, with Novak playing on the level above everyone else in the last and having almost no points to defend in the first four months of 2019.
There were only a few people who could predict such an outcome when Djokovic dropped out from the Top 20 in May for the first time since October 2006 but he proved his quality once again, becoming the first player since Marat Safin in 2000 to reach the number 1 spot despite being ranked outside the Top 20 earlier that season.
After an elbow surgery and a 6-6 score prior to Rome, Novak has won 43 of the next 48 matches and he missed a chance to further increase the gap over Nadal after losing in the final of the Paris Masters to Karen Khachanov in straight sets.
Novak is 565 points ahead of Rafa and this is his 224th week at the ATP throne, chasing Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl who are his next rivals on the list. These two players will determine the year-end number 1 in London as well, with Roger Federer trailing 2000 points behind Djokovic, losing a tight semi-final match against the Serb in the semi-final of Paris.
Juan Martin del Potro stays fourth despite missing Paris and he will not play in London as well after a knee injury he suffered in Shanghai against Borna Coric, opening the door for Alexander Zverev to earn enough points at the ATP Finals and finish the season inside the Top 4 for the second year in a row.
Alexander was beaten by Karen Khachanov in the quarter of Paris and he wasn't able to give his best due to an injury, hoping to leave that behind him and bring his "A game" in London where he needs two wins to pass the Argentinian.
Kevin Anderson lost in the third round of Paris to Kei Nishikori but he still has a decent lead in front of Marin Cilic who took a set away from Novak in the quarter-final last week. Dominic Theim had a chance to pass Cilic if he had reached the final in Paris but Khachanov was too strong in the semi-final match, leaving the Austrian in the eighth place with a chance to change all that with a good run in London.
Kei Nishikori suffered the quarter-final loss against Federer but he did enough to go further than John Isner and secure the place at the ATP Finals as a replacement for del Potro. John Isner will be the first alternate in London, together with Paris champion Karen Khachanov who defeated Novak 7-5 6-4 to claim his first Masters 1000 title and rise to a career-high 11th place.
Milos Raonic is in the Top 20 again and many players earned one spot on the list when the struggling Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov lost his points from the last year's ATP Finals, dropping nine places to barely survive inside the Top 20 after just 24 wins in 2018.
The defending Paris champion Jack Sock had a miserable season and he has dropped out from the Top 100 while the beaten finalist Filip Krajinovic barely survived in the elite group after losing 59 positions in the rankings.
David Goffin has dropped out from the Top 20 for the first time in three and a half years and the biggest movers on the list are Challenger champions Guido Andreozzi and Jordan Thompson. Top 20 rankings list:
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