Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did not appear to have much of a chance to win the ATP World Tour Finals event at many points in 2011. However, the French player is now one match away from the world championship.
In front of him is a huge threat as Tsonga will face defending champion Roger Federer on Sunday.
While Tsonga looks to be the underdog in the match, his accomplishment in making the final match of the ATP season should not be overlooked. The French player has made a major comeback this season that could set a precedent if he wins the title outright.
Tsonga started the year ranked outside of the Top 10, and he actually drifted as low as 22nd in 2011 with the May 2nd rankings. Even with his showing at Wimbledon where he made the semifinals, Tsonga was not back into the Top 10 on tour until August 15th.
As late as August 8th, he was ranked 16th in the world and did not look like a threat to win the ATP World Tour title.
When you compare Tsonga's season to that of former champions in terms of low ranking for the year, his comeback looks all the more impressive.
Federer won the title last year, but looked like a contender throughout the 2010 season as he was ranked first, second or third.
Nikolay Davydenko won in 2009 an unexpected title, however he started that season as the fifth-ranked player on tour and only dropped as low as world No. 12.
When Novak Djokovic won the Tennis Masters Cup in 2008, he did so having played the whole season as the world No. 3.
When Federer won that event in 2006 and 2007, he did so having been the top-ranked player throughout each of those calendar years.
In 2005, David Nalbandian did drop down in the rankings before winning the championship, however his ranking during 2005 did not drop as low as Tsonga's did during 2011. Nalbandian won the year end event after dropping down to 19th at a low point that year.
I looked all the way back to 1998 and was unable to find a player who won the year-end event after falling lower than Tsonga's rank of 22nd this year.
If the Frenchman can win the title, he will have completed one of the more impressive comebacks on tour in at least 13 years.