Congratulations to Rafael Nadal who has deservedly secured the year end number one men's tennis ranking. But has he been the best player on the planet this year? No, that honour goes to Roger Federer whose own comeback from injury has been even more extraordinary than his great rival.

Let's look at the facts; Federer underwent knee surgery after losing in the Wimbledon semifinals last year and took six months off to recover. He entered the Australian Open after no lead-in tournaments, playing three five setters and won an extraordinary final against Nadal.

It was his first Grand Slam title since 2012 at Wimbledon. Federer then suffered a shock loss to Russian Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai before winning the big hard court North American Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back, comfortably beating Nadal in both finals.

Federer opted to skip the clay court season including the French Open to give him the best chance to be 100 percent for the grass, and a tilt at a record 8th Wimbledon title.
Although he suffered a shock loss to Tommy Haas in Stuttgart, Federer won his regular Wimbledon tune up tournament in Halle and then cruised to his 19th Grand Slam title at the All England Club without dropping a set.

Advertisement

The Swiss great then battled into the final at the Montreal Masters where he was hampered by a back niggle and was beaten by Sascha Zverev. Federer withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters and then struggled through to the US Open quarter-finals where he succumbed to Juan Martin Del Potro in four sets.

He returned at the Shanghai Masters last month claiming victory for the second time, dropping just eight points on serve in a straight sets rout of Nadal in the final. The Swiss great then captured his 95th career title in his home town of Basel last week.

Federer has skipped this week's Paris Masters to prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, effectively conceding the world number one ranking to Nadal. The Swiss has won two grand slams, three Masters 1000 titles and seven titles overall with a 49 win 4 loss record at the age of 36.

By comparison Nadal has played in three Grand Slam finals, losing the Australian Open decider to Federer, but winning an extraordinary 10th French Open and his 16th grand Slam title at the US Open.

The Spaniard won clay court Masters 1000 titles in Monte Carlo and Madrid, the Barcelona Open and on hard court in Beijing, but lost finals to Federer in Miami and Shanghai, and in the fourth round at Indian Wells.

He lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon and suffered early defeats at the Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal, Cincinnati and Rome.

Nadal has had 66 wins this year and 10 defeats, winning six titles.

He's 31 and has made a phenomenal comeback from two injury hit seasons and started this year ranked 9th.

However Federer's head to head record against Nadal combined with the fact he's achieved his results being five years old gives him the edge. They've played each other four times and since the Australian Open final Federer has won six straight sets against his nemesis. The Swiss has reinvented his game following his injury layoff.

Changing to a bigger racquet head has generated more power on serve and he's used a top spin backhand to great effect against Nadal who 12 months ago had a 23-10 edged in their head to heads.

Federer has now won five straight against Nadal for the first time in their career with the head to head record now 23-15 in the Spaniard's favour. They have both produced extraordinary feats but Federer's achievements have been fractionally better.