Perhaps 2020 is not a true asterisk year for tennis, although the year-end ATP rankings could probably do with a couple here and there.
I an attempt to make the challenges of the coronavirus crisis fair to everyone, the ATP brought in a temporary rankings system that protects points from 2019.
Despite their best intentions, it was always inevitable that the emergency system would help some players more than others.
The best example, of course, is Roger Federer, who has not played for almost a year due to injury yet has retained a top five ranking heading into 2021.
So with the usually clear waters muddies somewhat, we have compiled a new top ten containing only the ATP rankings points that were won this year. Their actual ranking is stated in brackets.
10 - Pablo Carreño Busta, 1710 (16)
The workhorse Spaniard has been a bit of a pain in the backside for the top players since the resumption of the ATP Tour, and should be six places higher than he is.
His most memorable contribution to the US Open may turn out to be him being there when Novak Djokovic was sensationally defaulted in the fourth round, but he was a set away from the final too.
He backed that up with the quarterfinals of the French Open, and only the temporary rankings rules have prevented him being a top ten player for the first time.
9 - Milos Raonic, 1725 (14)
It definitely feels like Milos Raonic has had something of a bounceback season.
The Canadian hasn’t been a top ten player since 2014 but he would be one right now if only points won in 2020 counted.
You could argue with Raonic that the lighter schedule has helped him a lot, and he may of have played enough tournaments compared to everyone else had the tour not been suspended for five months.
Nevertheless, the 2020 figures are what they are…
8 - Diego Schwartzman, 2200 (9)
The difference between year-end world number 8 and year-end world number 9 might not seem much, but it is often the difference between qualifying for the ATP Finals and missing out.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Schwartzman because he still got the London debut his season merited.
7 - Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2495 (6)
The Greek is the first player on the list to have benefitted from the 2020 emergency rankings system, with him sitting higher in the actual rankings than his rankings points merited.
He is not the biggest beneficiary by far, of course. You are also inclined to give Tsitsipas a bit of leeway too because he has not shied away from anything and seems to have struggled with the relentless restrictions of the dreaded ‘bubbles’ more than most.
6 - Andrey Rublev, 3425 (8)
After a tour-leading five titles in 2020, his actual raking of 8 feels a little low in truth. Granted, he has failed to land a big crown this year. It is not like when his fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev was picking up Masters titles to power his breakthrough last year.
Rublev, by comparison, has not won anything above an ATP500 event, but it remains a fact that no one has won more this year.
5 - Alexander Zverev, 3455 (7)
The German is perhaps the toughest player on the ATP Tour to gauge, in all honesty. Not just this year but pretty much constantly.
Indeed, Zverev has been ranked precisely seventh, as he is now, in the actual ATP rankings for over a year now. He has not moved once.
That said, his 2020 was clearly good enough to break him free from that position had the rules allowed.
He reached both the semi-final and the final of Grand Slams and picked up a couple of titles too in Cologne.
4 - Daniil Medvedev, 4025 (4)
For a long time in 2020, Medvedev looked like he would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the emergency rankings rules. He was failing at just about every turn to replicate his outstanding form of 12 months earlier.
However, he finished the season in scintillating form, winning the Paris Masters and then going unbeaten at the ATP Finals too.
His performance in London bagged him a cool 1500 points at the death and saw him completely justify his lofty ranking going into the new campaign.
3 - Rafael Nadal, 4050 (2)
Not only was Nadal not one of the top two players this year, he actually only just held off Daniil Medvedev too.
That is not to say that Nadal didn’t have a good season, of course. He made history, won a Grand Slam, and played some brilliant tennis.
As a double Grand Slam champion from 2019, though, he was very well-positioned to take full advantage of the current system. However, he still would have been in the top three very much on merit regardless.
2 - Dominic Thiem, 4615 (3)
Thiem says he is ‘so far away’ from the big three in terms of achievement – and he is right – but in terms of tennis in 2020 he was right up there with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
He won as many Grand Slam titles as anyone and beat both Nadal (twice) and Djokovic along the way too.
If you had to put money on anyone denying Djokovic another year-end world number one next year, I wonder how many would tip Thiem before Nadal?
1 - Novak Djokovic, 6855 (1)
Some people will try to tell you that Djokovic has not been at his best this season, and they may be right. However, he has still been head-and-shoulders above anyone else.
Djokovic has won one Grand Slam (although it feels like forever ago) and reach another Grand Slam final. On top of that he has also won two Masters and an ATP500 too.
The fact that the season has felt disappointing to some just highlights how high a standard his tennis has set for himself.
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