Novak Djokovic's weeks at No. 1 could cause a rankings controversy

weakera

Legend
Novak Djokovic might secure one of the most cherished records in tennis history in the coming weeks, all without lifting a finger or swinging a racket.


It's yet another unexpected result of the postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-ranked Djokovic has spent a grand total of 281 weeks spread out over his career in the No. 1-ranked spot. That leaves him in third place for all players since the computer rankings were first employed in August 1973. He is just five weeks behind Pete Sampras and 29 short of the record held by Roger Federer (310 weeks).

If the ATP decides that the period during the suspension of play will count in the official stats, Djokovic is likely to gain significant ground, passing Sampras, and perhaps even Federer, in the record books before ATP Tour play resumes.

"Federer fans will get upset," ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert said, "but I think Djokovic should get credit for those weeks while the rankings are frozen with him at No. 1. He earned the ranking, and he was going to be No. 1 for a while even if things went on as normal."

Djokovic has been spectacular since late fall, unbeaten in his past 21 matches (18-0 in 2020). He is the Australian Open champion. He throttled Rafael Nadal -- his main active rival, as Federer is out with injury and presently ranked No. 4 -- in straight sets the last time they played, in the ATP Cup finals.

The ATP Tour, which joined the WTA Tour in freezing rankings until the return date for both tours (tentatively June 7), are in the midst of deciding the Djokovic issue (and others). The result is likely to be controversial, either way.

Simon Higson, a spokesperson for the ATP, wrote in an email: "Many aspects related to the freeze of the FedEx ATP rankings, as well as the details as to how the freeze will work with the resumption of the Tour, are still to be confirmed following further review. Further information will be provided in due course."

Amy Binder, WTA vice president for global communications, replied in like manner in an email.

The tours have similar ranking systems that track results over a rolling 52-week period, with points a player gained from the previous week added and points that were gained at the same time last year dropping off. The rankings system assumes continuous play, which is why the tours have a problem -- as well as a variety of solutions.

The most basic response is to extend the present freeze on the rankings and statistical records until play resumes. Djokovic would remain 29 weeks behind Federer at No. 1 despite holding the ranking for however long the emergency lasts. It would be tantamount to blanking the pandemic period out of the game's statistical history.

The tours also could keep the freeze in place but adjust the rankings and stats based on where the players would rank week to week when their results from the previous year drop off. That's where the case for counting the weeks on Djokovic's behalf seems strongest.

"Going into Indian Wells, Djokovic was going to stay No. 1 by the end, unless he lost before the semis and Rafa won the tournament," Gilbert said. "That didn't play out, and Djokovic is still No. 1. If you start dropping points as the weeks go on the way the system works, Djokovic would keep the top ranking for a long time, probably until at least Wimbledon [where he is defending champion] drops off."

In other words, under conditions where nobody can add points, Djokovic will not lose enough points for anyone (Nadal is the only realistic challenger) to leapfrog over him.

Darren Cahill, coach of Simona Halep and also an ESPN analyst, agrees with Gilbert.

"[Djokovic should get that credit] until the next major, and then I'm a bit unsure of what is the right thing to do," Cahill said.

"These weeks he would have retained the No. 1. The same goes for [Ashleigh] Barty."

While the rankings facts are undeniable, some will still bristle at the idea of Djokovic getting credit for remaining No. 1 at a time when nobody can challenge him. After all, Nadal was in a position to reclaim the top spot at Indian Wells, and as the "king of clay," he was heading into the European red-clay segment that he has so often ruled. But even if the tour had been suspended with Nadal at No. 1 after Indian Wells, Djokovic could have still replaced him again as long as Nadal was unable to add points in the spring.

The most radical and most fitting solution would be to the embrace a plan Nadal himself has called for: a ranking system based on two years of results, not 12 months.

David Macpherson, coach of John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan, believes that would be the best solution of all.

"It's inconceivable to let points drop off without the players having the chance to replace them," Macpherson said in an interview. "That happens a lot in the 12-month system, and it could be happening now. [Dominic] Thiem won Indian Wells last year, and Rafa was dominant on clay. They should have the chance to defend those points even if the events this year are canceled."

The proponents of the two-year ranking system stress that players who leave the tour for a few months (usually due to injury) are unduly punished under the present system. It happened to Isner last year. The defending champion at the Miami Open, he made the final again in 2019 but suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the final. He was out for three months.

"That's a quarter of a year," Macpherson said. "So he was really up against it when he returned. This situation is a little like that. So Rafa's idea is looking really good right now."

If the ATP and WTA were at all receptive to the idea of a two-year ranking but reluctant to abandon a system that seemed to be working well, the current crisis affords an excellent opportunity to transition. Or more likely, the tours could implement the 24-month plan until a full, 12-month cycle of play has been completed again -- assuming the tour resumes some time before the hiatus has lasted a full year.

"I don't know who the system will help or what it's going to be when we resume play," Gilbert said. "But the one thing I think is that we're not just going to jump back into the status quo."

 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
No worries. In the end, Novak will have surpassed Roger's record by at least 30 weeks without counting any extra weeks at the top from the frozen season
 

Eren

Professional
Weird that they haven't frozen those weeks at number one though. Tennis is cancelled at the moment so should those weeks at number one be imo.

EDIT: weeks at number one are frozen as they should be. Nothing to discuss here.
 

Fiero425

Hall of Fame
Weeks are frozen, rankings are frozen as per ATP decision, nothing to discuss there.
ESPN running out of news material and just trying to stir up some clicks.
People with hair on fire over this issue should be placated, but probably won't! :sneaky:
 

EdSWright

Professional
Novak Djokovic might secure one of the most cherished records in tennis history in the coming weeks, all without lifting a finger or swinging a racket.


It's yet another unexpected result of the postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-ranked Djokovic has spent a grand total of 281 weeks spread out over his career in the No. 1-ranked spot. That leaves him in third place for all players since the computer rankings were first employed in August 1973. He is just five weeks behind Pete Sampras and 29 short of the record held by Roger Federer (310 weeks).

If the ATP decides that the period during the suspension of play will count in the official stats, Djokovic is likely to gain significant ground, passing Sampras, and perhaps even Federer, in the record books before ATP Tour play resumes.

"Federer fans will get upset," ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert said, "but I think Djokovic should get credit for those weeks while the rankings are frozen with him at No. 1. He earned the ranking, and he was going to be No. 1 for a while even if things went on as normal."

Djokovic has been spectacular since late fall, unbeaten in his past 21 matches (18-0 in 2020). He is the Australian Open champion. He throttled Rafael Nadal -- his main active rival, as Federer is out with injury and presently ranked No. 4 -- in straight sets the last time they played, in the ATP Cup finals.

The ATP Tour, which joined the WTA Tour in freezing rankings until the return date for both tours (tentatively June 7), are in the midst of deciding the Djokovic issue (and others). The result is likely to be controversial, either way.

Simon Higson, a spokesperson for the ATP, wrote in an email: "Many aspects related to the freeze of the FedEx ATP rankings, as well as the details as to how the freeze will work with the resumption of the Tour, are still to be confirmed following further review. Further information will be provided in due course."

Amy Binder, WTA vice president for global communications, replied in like manner in an email.

The tours have similar ranking systems that track results over a rolling 52-week period, with points a player gained from the previous week added and points that were gained at the same time last year dropping off. The rankings system assumes continuous play, which is why the tours have a problem -- as well as a variety of solutions.

The most basic response is to extend the present freeze on the rankings and statistical records until play resumes. Djokovic would remain 29 weeks behind Federer at No. 1 despite holding the ranking for however long the emergency lasts. It would be tantamount to blanking the pandemic period out of the game's statistical history.

The tours also could keep the freeze in place but adjust the rankings and stats based on where the players would rank week to week when their results from the previous year drop off. That's where the case for counting the weeks on Djokovic's behalf seems strongest.

"Going into Indian Wells, Djokovic was going to stay No. 1 by the end, unless he lost before the semis and Rafa won the tournament," Gilbert said. "That didn't play out, and Djokovic is still No. 1. If you start dropping points as the weeks go on the way the system works, Djokovic would keep the top ranking for a long time, probably until at least Wimbledon [where he is defending champion] drops off."

In other words, under conditions where nobody can add points, Djokovic will not lose enough points for anyone (Nadal is the only realistic challenger) to leapfrog over him.

Darren Cahill, coach of Simona Halep and also an ESPN analyst, agrees with Gilbert.

"[Djokovic should get that credit] until the next major, and then I'm a bit unsure of what is the right thing to do," Cahill said.

"These weeks he would have retained the No. 1. The same goes for [Ashleigh] Barty."

While the rankings facts are undeniable, some will still bristle at the idea of Djokovic getting credit for remaining No. 1 at a time when nobody can challenge him. After all, Nadal was in a position to reclaim the top spot at Indian Wells, and as the "king of clay," he was heading into the European red-clay segment that he has so often ruled. But even if the tour had been suspended with Nadal at No. 1 after Indian Wells, Djokovic could have still replaced him again as long as Nadal was unable to add points in the spring.

The most radical and most fitting solution would be to the embrace a plan Nadal himself has called for: a ranking system based on two years of results, not 12 months.

David Macpherson, coach of John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan, believes that would be the best solution of all.

"It's inconceivable to let points drop off without the players having the chance to replace them," Macpherson said in an interview. "That happens a lot in the 12-month system, and it could be happening now. [Dominic] Thiem won Indian Wells last year, and Rafa was dominant on clay. They should have the chance to defend those points even if the events this year are canceled."

The proponents of the two-year ranking system stress that players who leave the tour for a few months (usually due to injury) are unduly punished under the present system. It happened to Isner last year. The defending champion at the Miami Open, he made the final again in 2019 but suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the final. He was out for three months.

"That's a quarter of a year," Macpherson said. "So he was really up against it when he returned. This situation is a little like that. So Rafa's idea is looking really good right now."

If the ATP and WTA were at all receptive to the idea of a two-year ranking but reluctant to abandon a system that seemed to be working well, the current crisis affords an excellent opportunity to transition. Or more likely, the tours could implement the 24-month plan until a full, 12-month cycle of play has been completed again -- assuming the tour resumes some time before the hiatus has lasted a full year.

"I don't know who the system will help or what it's going to be when we resume play," Gilbert said. "But the one thing I think is that we're not just going to jump back into the status quo."

His asterisk will have an asterisk.
 

FedeRadi

Rookie
Weeks are frozen, rankings are frozen as per ATP decision, nothing to discuss there.
ESPN running out of news material and just trying to stir up some clicks.
Rankings are frozen, not canceled. Djokovic is the current number 1, and he will be until the tour resume. Weeks are running out, so it's seem logical to count them.
I can see a case for not counting them, but say "nothing to discuss" is clearly partisan.
 

daggerman

Semi-Pro
The bottom line: any decision with respect to counting these idle weeks toward Djokovic's weeks at number 1 count is either unfair to Djokovic or unfair to Federer (and Sampras, I guess).

Since it's likely that Djokovic would have maintained the number 1 ranking if the ATP schedule proceeded normally, I would argue that not counting these idle weeks would be more unfair to Djokovic than counting them would be unfair to Federer.

I understand why it's a conundrum, but some degree of unfairness is inevitable. Personally, I believe this question is controversial only because (to some) there is enough distance currently between Federer and Djokovic to raise some doubt about whether Djokovic would pass him if idle weeks weren't counted. If the record were, say, 286 weeks, I doubt anybody care.
 

TheAssassin

Legend
Let Novak have the weak weeks .. Goes well with the weak era and weak majors won - 11 of 17 majors after Fed turned 33 / Rafa turned 28
Clearly you'd love this break to last for a very long time. Shows that everything Djokovic has achieved up to this point has a lot more value than what you keep repeating as well as your concern that he will continue being successful. Some fan of tennis right there...
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
The weeks when tennis was not played should not count. Rankings points should not drop off either because they should drop off only when tennis being played. So whenever the season resumes, Djokovic should be exactly where he left off, at #1 with a big points lead over the rest of the field. But the weeks at #1 during the epidemic when tennis was not being played should not count.
 

mika1979

Professional
Novak Djokovic might secure one of the most cherished records in tennis history in the coming weeks, all without lifting a finger or swinging a racket.


It's yet another unexpected result of the postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-ranked Djokovic has spent a grand total of 281 weeks spread out over his career in the No. 1-ranked spot. That leaves him in third place for all players since the computer rankings were first employed in August 1973. He is just five weeks behind Pete Sampras and 29 short of the record held by Roger Federer (310 weeks).

If the ATP decides that the period during the suspension of play will count in the official stats, Djokovic is likely to gain significant ground, passing Sampras, and perhaps even Federer, in the record books before ATP Tour play resumes.

"Federer fans will get upset," ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert said, "but I think Djokovic should get credit for those weeks while the rankings are frozen with him at No. 1. He earned the ranking, and he was going to be No. 1 for a while even if things went on as normal."

Djokovic has been spectacular since late fall, unbeaten in his past 21 matches (18-0 in 2020). He is the Australian Open champion. He throttled Rafael Nadal -- his main active rival, as Federer is out with injury and presently ranked No. 4 -- in straight sets the last time they played, in the ATP Cup finals.

The ATP Tour, which joined the WTA Tour in freezing rankings until the return date for both tours (tentatively June 7), are in the midst of deciding the Djokovic issue (and others). The result is likely to be controversial, either way.

Simon Higson, a spokesperson for the ATP, wrote in an email: "Many aspects related to the freeze of the FedEx ATP rankings, as well as the details as to how the freeze will work with the resumption of the Tour, are still to be confirmed following further review. Further information will be provided in due course."

Amy Binder, WTA vice president for global communications, replied in like manner in an email.

The tours have similar ranking systems that track results over a rolling 52-week period, with points a player gained from the previous week added and points that were gained at the same time last year dropping off. The rankings system assumes continuous play, which is why the tours have a problem -- as well as a variety of solutions.

The most basic response is to extend the present freeze on the rankings and statistical records until play resumes. Djokovic would remain 29 weeks behind Federer at No. 1 despite holding the ranking for however long the emergency lasts. It would be tantamount to blanking the pandemic period out of the game's statistical history.

The tours also could keep the freeze in place but adjust the rankings and stats based on where the players would rank week to week when their results from the previous year drop off. That's where the case for counting the weeks on Djokovic's behalf seems strongest.

"Going into Indian Wells, Djokovic was going to stay No. 1 by the end, unless he lost before the semis and Rafa won the tournament," Gilbert said. "That didn't play out, and Djokovic is still No. 1. If you start dropping points as the weeks go on the way the system works, Djokovic would keep the top ranking for a long time, probably until at least Wimbledon [where he is defending champion] drops off."

In other words, under conditions where nobody can add points, Djokovic will not lose enough points for anyone (Nadal is the only realistic challenger) to leapfrog over him.

Darren Cahill, coach of Simona Halep and also an ESPN analyst, agrees with Gilbert.

"[Djokovic should get that credit] until the next major, and then I'm a bit unsure of what is the right thing to do," Cahill said.

"These weeks he would have retained the No. 1. The same goes for [Ashleigh] Barty."

While the rankings facts are undeniable, some will still bristle at the idea of Djokovic getting credit for remaining No. 1 at a time when nobody can challenge him. After all, Nadal was in a position to reclaim the top spot at Indian Wells, and as the "king of clay," he was heading into the European red-clay segment that he has so often ruled. But even if the tour had been suspended with Nadal at No. 1 after Indian Wells, Djokovic could have still replaced him again as long as Nadal was unable to add points in the spring.

The most radical and most fitting solution would be to the embrace a plan Nadal himself has called for: a ranking system based on two years of results, not 12 months.

David Macpherson, coach of John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan, believes that would be the best solution of all.

"It's inconceivable to let points drop off without the players having the chance to replace them," Macpherson said in an interview. "That happens a lot in the 12-month system, and it could be happening now. [Dominic] Thiem won Indian Wells last year, and Rafa was dominant on clay. They should have the chance to defend those points even if the events this year are canceled."

The proponents of the two-year ranking system stress that players who leave the tour for a few months (usually due to injury) are unduly punished under the present system. It happened to Isner last year. The defending champion at the Miami Open, he made the final again in 2019 but suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the final. He was out for three months.

"That's a quarter of a year," Macpherson said. "So he was really up against it when he returned. This situation is a little like that. So Rafa's idea is looking really good right now."

If the ATP and WTA were at all receptive to the idea of a two-year ranking but reluctant to abandon a system that seemed to be working well, the current crisis affords an excellent opportunity to transition. Or more likely, the tours could implement the 24-month plan until a full, 12-month cycle of play has been completed again -- assuming the tour resumes some time before the hiatus has lasted a full year.

"I don't know who the system will help or what it's going to be when we resume play," Gilbert said. "But the one thing I think is that we're not just going to jump back into the status quo."

The funny thing is, Djokovic doesnt give a crap what happens with this. I think only loser fans of Fed or Rafa. As a Djokovic fan it is irrelevant to me whether these weeks count or not. However I think that if points keep coming off normally without tournaments being played he will be number one throughout as he has got the most points this year, this is just maths, But once again care factor low
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
A couple of things here:

1. Djokovic would have almost certainly achieved the weeks @ record anyway, he was clearly the best player on tour this year.
2. It is another reason why the weeks @ stat is an odd one to even worry about considering weeks are counted when there is no tennis played. YE # 1 is an accurate reflection of a player being the best player of the whole season, the 'World Champion of Tennis' if you like. A concept just about every other annually contested sport in the world has - a champion for that particular year.
 
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Bertie B

Professional
He currently sits at 16° Gemini, will clear the sign completely at #RG21.

In and around that time he will be ripe for the picking, assuming he's still in the game.

The person to topple him must be Mars, or the Sun. Thiem does not have these placements.

Djoko is...
Sun - Gemini/Cancer
Mars - Cancer
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
That's great, but if he still has the record in 2021, he'll only have it due to the 2020 cancellation. If he somehow keeps it, he'll own a record he doesn't deserve. What pride can you take in that?
???

How does he not deserve it in that scenario? He could become number 1 again by sweeping Wimbledon , Cincy, USO, Shanghai, YEC.

we only have 33-34 year olds as number 1 because no one aged 18-30 can challenge them.
Federer is not yet retired so this virus is costing him chances too.
 
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Bertie B

Professional
Once his sun sets in 2021, if he's to be held down for good, these guys can challenge him constantly... If they put in the work

Tsitsipas
Khachanov
 

The Guru

Professional
I say count them for half to make for some mid-way justice and appease both camps.
Half measures like this often get attacked from both sides and make nobody happy even though I do think this would be better than him getting them all or getting none. It's tough and as someone said earlier someone is getting screwed here (likely Novak)
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
Brad Gilbert: "I think Djokovic should get credit for those weeks while the rankings are frozen with him at No. 1. He earned the ranking, and he was going to be No. 1 for a while even if things went on as normal."
True, Novak well deserved his #1 ranking before IW. But the rest of Gilbert's comment is utter nonsense. Had Nadal won IW and Djoker lost before the semis, Nadal would have been ranked #1 the Monday following the IW final. So Gilbert's assertion that Djoker "was going to be #1 for awhile" may have been true, but maybe not had Rafa won the event. Novak may only have been #1 for two additional weeks.
 

Fiero425

Hall of Fame
True, Novak well deserved his #1 ranking before IW. But the rest of Gilbert's comment is utter nonsense. Had Nadal won IW and Djoker lost before the semis, Nadal would have been ranked #1 the Monday following the IW final. So Gilbert's assertion that Djoker "was going to be #1 for awhile" may have been true, but maybe not had Rafa won the event. Novak may only have been #1 for two additional weeks.
But I doubt that would happen; seeing as Nole lost early last year and only lost 45 points while Nadal dropped quite a few more getting to the SF's! Nole's lead actually increased without even playing a match! :sneaky:
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
But I doubt that would happen; seeing as Nole lost early last year and only lost 45 points while Nadal dropped quite a few more getting to the SF's! Nole's lead actually increased without even playing a match! :sneaky:
We can spin this all we want, the fact is we can never know. Rafa had a lousy clay court season by his standards in 2019 and didn't win events he nearly always wins: MC, Barcelona and Madrid. He would have had a good chance of gaining many clay points and could have become #1 in April then. Or Nole could have remained #1 legitimately for all of 2020. Nobody will ever know.
 

The Guru

Professional
We can spin this all we want, the fact is we can never know. Rafa had a lousy clay court season by his standards in 2019 and didn't win events he nearly always wins: MC, Barcelona and Madrid. He would have had a good chance of gaining many clay points and could have become #1 in April then. Or Nole could have remained #1 legitimately for all of 2020. Nobody will ever know.
I agree but I also don't. In all likelihood Novak was holding number 1 until at least MC and probably longer. There is no solution that's not unfair to Novak/Nadal/Sampras/Fed. It is what it is I guess.
 

Mike Sams

Legend
Probably a couple of things here:

1. Djokovic would have almost certainly achieved the weeks @ record anyway, he was clearly the best player on tour this year.
2. It is another reason why the weeks @ stat is an odd one to even worry about considering weeks are counted when there is no tennis played. YE # 1 is an accurate reflection of a player being the best player of the whole season, the 'World Champion of Tennis' if you like. A concept just about every other annually contested sport in the world has - a champion for that particular year.
The season was only 3 months in before everything got halted. And Djokovic didn't look anything close to invincible at ATP Cup, Melbourne nor Dubai. He's looking like an aging player as compared to prior seasons.
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
The season was only 3 months in before everything got halted. And Djokovic didn't look anything close to invincible at ATP Cup, Melbourne nor Dubai. He's looking like an aging player as compared to prior seasons.
He is 18 - 0 to start the season with wins over Nadal, Medvedev, Monfils (twice), Thiem, Federer and Tsitsipas. I think it is fair to say that he clearly the best player on tour and (much to my dislike) Rafa wasn't closing the gap to # 1.
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
Both Djokovic and Barty would have been #1 anyway through til May so I don't really see what the issue is.

Djokovic had been incredibly dominant in 2020 with no signs of that stopping so he deserves to keep the spot. Barty wasn't as dominant but was doing very well with the Adelaide title, Aus Open SF and Doha SF.

Once The French Open is over is when the issues will begin, particularly for the WTA with Barty as she is the defending champ with 2,000 points.
 

Lew II

Legend
If the ranking is freezed, #1 weeks should not count.
If they drop the points of cancelled/postponed tournaments, #1 weeks should count.
 

Mike Sams

Legend
Djokovic can have the weeks at #1 record. Most important thing is that he needs to win 4 more Slams to be considered the GOAT. He's got time. Although the way it's looking, 2020 could be a wash.
 

Lew II

Legend
Let Novak have the weak weeks .. Goes well with the weak era and weak majors won - 11 of 17 majors after Fed turned 33 / Rafa turned 28
Other over29 years old won all last 11 slams (5 Nadal, 3 Federer, 2 Wawrinka, 1 Murray), so there's nothing wrong with the age you mentioned.

Slams won without beating one of the 3 highest ranked opponents:

Federer 10
Djokovic 0
 
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