Novak Djokovic was going to be number one for 2012 regardless of how his match versus Roger Federer to conclude the World Tour Finals. Prior to the World Tour Finals Djokovic had reached 3 Grand Slam finals in 2012 and 6 Masters 1000 finals. That consistency made him number one for the year.
Number One Due to Runner-Ups?
Djokovic went 1-2 in Grand Slam finals in 2012 and 3-3 in Masters 1000 finals. Djokovic also lost in the Olympic semifinal round and lost again in his Bronze Medal match at the 2012 Olympics. Had Djokovic lost to Roger Federer, he would have been number one based mostly on his ability to reach tournament finals rather than his wins. Djokovic’s second World Tour Final title means he went 5-5 in big tournament finals in 2012. He also bookended 2012 with a win at the Australian Open and the World Tour Finals. Djokovic undoubtedly feels like he may have let a US Open get away in 2012, but ending 2012 with a round robin victory over Andy Murray and a championship match victory over Roger Federer gives him a firm hold on number one heading into 2013.*
* – A loss in Melbourne would mean no Grand Slam titles for his previous 52 weeks so Djokovic needs to fight hard out of the gate to keep that solid grip on number one.