Andy Murray won every match he played after his US Open loss to Kei Nishikori. This streak included winning the World Tour Finals with an undefeated round robin record, two Masters 1000 events, and two ATP 500 level events. This amounted to 4500 ranking points and enough leverage to overtake Novak Djokovic who finished 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 ranked number one.
The Olympic Factor
Novak Djokovic won the most majors on tour and did not finish number one. This had not happened since Boris Becker won 2 majors in 1989 yet finished second to Ivan Lendl. Djokovic won 2 majors in 2016 with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka winning the other 2. Novak won 4 Masters 1000 events and Andy Murray won 3 plus the World Tour Finals. Murray’s 500 level event wins provided his mathematical path to the number one ranking. Andy Murray claiming his second Olympic gold medal in singles adds a weight to his 2016 accomplishments. Claiming his first World Tour Finals title is certainly noteworthy. Wimbledon is Wimbledon. Still, Novak Djokovic’s tears after losing in Rio, Juan Martin del Potro’s excitement and grit, Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori’s dust-up in the bronze medal match, all demonstrated how much players prized this event. There were no ranking points to be won in Rio, but Andy Murray’s gold medal adds a lot of heft to his 2016 haul.
Which Year Was Better?
I think we may be in an odd spot where each player would prefer to keep the year he had rather than trade it for the other. In most years, the #2 player would like to trade places with the #1 player. Novak Djokovic was able to complete his career Grand Slam and to do something no man has ever done in holding all 4 majors with the majors now being contested on at least 3 surfaces. Novak’s Nole Slam included results from 2015, but there is no way he would trade that accomplishment as well as completing the career Grand Slam even with a #2 ranking. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and the World Tour Finals in Great Britain. Andy also won the Davis Cup in 2015, and a gold medal in singles and a silver medal in mixed doubles in 2012. Andy Murray’s second gold medal adds a great layer to his successes in competitions in which he represents the UK. So I think a situation exists in which neither Djokovic nor Murray look at the year had by the other man with envy.