Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal can Tie for World #1 in 2017. Here’s How

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2017 has been Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s year. Now, following Federer’s triumph in Shanghai last week, the two could be tied for the World No.1 by the end of the year. Here’s how…

Nadal currently leads Federer by 1,960 points in 2017. For the two to tie, it would require Federer to earn 1,960 points more than Nadal between now and the end of the year. There are a few mathematical ways for that to occur.

If Nadal reaches the semis in both Basel and at the Paris Masters, he would earn 540 points – 360 for Paris and 180 for Basel. If Federer wins Basel, Paris, and earns 1,000 points at the World Tour Finals (in layman’s terms, three round robin wins and progressing through the semi-finals but losing to the final), and Nadal leaves London empty-handed, they will be at level-pegging with the Swiss having gained 2,500 points in those three events.

The only other way it can happen is if Nadal misses both Basel and Bercy – which is not an unrealistic possibility. “I don’t know about Basel,” the Spaniard said post Shanghai. “I need to think about it. I cannot tell you now.” Federer would then have to earn 860 points between the two tournaments (victory in Basel and semi-finals in Bercy), and trump Nadal by 1,100 points at the O2 in London. That would equate to either Federer taking the title unbeaten, and Nadal winning only two group matches; or Federer winning with a 2-1 round robin record and Nadal taking only match.

So, those are the permutations.

But what would happen in the event of a tie? It would be broken down as follows (from the ATP Rulebook):

  1. The most total points from the Grand Slams, mandatory ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Nitto ATP Finals main draws, and if still tied, then,
  2. The fewest events played, counting all missed Grand Slams, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments and Nitto ATP Finals they could have played – as if played, and if still tied, then,

3. The highest number of points from one single tournament, then, if needed, the second highest, and so on.

When that tiebreaker is applied, Federer would win it, as he would have earned more points this year from Slams, Masters, and the Tour Finals than Nadal would have. The Spaniard has earned 1,345 points from ATP 500s and 250s this year. Even with a win in Basel, Federer would have a maximum of 1,045. If the pair tie, Federer would be declared year-end #1 on a tiebreaker.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be tight.

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