Remember how Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had to cut their 2016 seasons short due to injury and weren’t even in the year-end Top 8, but then went on to completely dominate the 2017 season?
Well, there’s some deja vu going on right now - except it’s with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
The two younger members of the Big Four have both been sidelined since Wimbledon - Djokovic with an elbow injury, Murray a hip injury - and the two men who finished 2016 as the Top 2 players in the have gone on to finish the 2017 season outside the Top 10, Djokovic at No.12 and Murray at No.16.
They weren’t just the Top 2 players in the world to finish 2016, they were the Top 2 players in the world by a long, long way - they each had more than twice the ranking points as the World No.3:
2016’s Year-End Top 3:
No.1 Andy Murray - 12,410 points
No.2 Novak Djokovic - 11,780 points
No.3 Milos Raonic - 5,450 points
(Nadal finished at No.9, Federer finished at No.16)
On the 2017 year-end rankings, Nadal and Federer are the Top 2 players by a long, long way too:
2017’s Year-End Top 3:
No.1 Rafael Nadal - 10,645 points
No.2 Roger Federer - 9,605 points
No.3 Grigor Dimitrov - 5,150 points
(Djokovic finished at No.12, Murray finished at No.16)
If Djokovic and Murray are able to return from their injuries at the start of the 2018 season as planned, and if history is anything to go by, it might not take them long to get back to the big leagues.
Djokovic has had by far his biggest Grand Slam success at the Australian Open, winning it a record six times in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. That’s more than any other man in the Open Era, and more for him than at any other major (his next-best major is Wimbledon with three titles).
Murray, on the other hand, has never won the Australian Open, but he’s been to the final more times there than at any other major - he’s a five-time runner-up there in 2010 (to Federer) and in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 (all to Djokovic). His next-most finals at a single major are three at Wimbledon.
We’ll have to wait and see if they can emulate Nadal and Federer’s 2017 achievements in 2018…
Until then let’s look back at the pair’s last big final against each other - the ATP Finals a year ago: