Roger Federer’s ATP Finals heroics over Novak Djokovic once altered year-end rankings in favor of Rafael Nadal

The ATP Finals has seen the best of the best contest together in high-stakes battles over the years. More often than not, in the past two decades, The Big Three—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—have been regular performers at the event.

The high stakes on most occasions come down to who pips whom at the top of the ATP rankings after the completion of the tournament. With a maximum of 1500 points up for grabs, the ranking table witnesses massive movement at the top, and on one such occasion, the Swiss maestro managed to dictate proceedings with an epic win.

Federer’s remarkable victory reshaped the year-end rankings

Roger Federer was ranked third in the world when he entered the 2019 ATP Finals, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic ahead of him. His tournament got off to a rough start as he lost his first match to Dominic Thiem. Next, he faced Novak Djokovic, his opponent in the Wimbledon final.

A semifinal progression was on the line, but what was even more enticing for Novak Djokovic was that he could pip Nadal at the top of the ATP rankings if he won the tournament. That didn’t happen as the Swiss displayed a ruthless concoction of serving and aggression to triumph 6-4, 6-3 on a chill, wintery night in London.

Roger Federer celebrating match point against Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer celebrating match point against Novak Djokovic at 2019 ATP Finals, via Guardian

“It was a good day for tennis,” Federer said. “I’m sure to some extent, not because I beat Novak but because the race for world No. 1 was riding on the match, as well, and the atmosphere in the building was very nice. I was able to produce under pressure and I was trying to remind myself to play with less pressure than what Novak had throughout the game, and it worked. I’m very happy. I’m very pleased.”

Though Rafael Nadal didn’t progress to the semifinals himself, Novak’s failure meant he finished the year as world no. 1 and had Roger Federer to thank for it. The Swiss progressed to the semifinals and had another crack at winning a record number of ATP Finals titles.

How many ATP finals has Federer won?

Roger Federer has won a total of six ATP Finals titles over a two-decade career. He first achieved the feat as early as 2022, when he was 22 years old. He followed that with a successive title the next year and finished the year as world no. 1.

He went on to repeat the feat in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. With his final win, he officially became the most decorated player in the history of the ATP Finals. His legacy, however, stands to be overtaken by a resurgent Novak Djokovic, who has since also gone on to win six titles at the year-ending championship.

Roger Federer with 2011 ATP Finals trophy, via Tennis World

Novak is still competing in the Nitto ATP Finals, and will play a part this year, whereas Roger Federer retired in 2022. Roger has held on to his world no. 1 ranking for 237 weeks in total during his prime and took part in 10 ATP Finals throughout his career.

Along with Nadal and Djokovic, Roger Federer is one of the three most decorated tennis athletes in the history of tennis, and the feat is astonishing, given they played around the same time.

What are your opinions on Federer’s helping hand provided to Nadal in the ATP Finals? Let us know in the comments section below.


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