US OPEN TENNIS POWER RANKINGS
It is orderly at the top
According to a recent reuters article, Djokovic’s game is currently ‘out of this world. His ascent has been puzzling because it is difficult to pin it to anything in particular. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga puts it best when commenting on Djokovic ‘”He doesn’t hit harder, he doesn’t hit the ball earlier, He does not have the best return on the Tour. But on every return, he returns well, and he’s always there. So what does it is his consistency, and he has no weaknesses.”
That consistency has led to a 58-2 record (coming into the US Open), and one of the best Tennis seasons in history. He already has a record six Masters series titles this year, and will start as the odds on favorite for the US Open.
Rafa has faltered a bit in the last few weeks. You can hardly blame him. Anyone’s confidence will be shaken if 5 of your 9 losses on the year were tournament finals to the same player. However, Rafa is in his prime and should not be overlooked. He and Uncle Tony must be working overtime to figure out the necessary adjustments needed to return Rafa to the pinnacle of Men’s Tennis.
Probably the Greatest player of all time, ‘the Fed’ recently turned 30, and seems very happy and occupied with life outside the courts with his wife and twin daughters. Federer is not about to ride into the sunset just yet, and he feels he still has a couple of grand slams in him.
The emergence of Djokovic and players like Del-Potro and Tsonga might not be a bad thing for Federer as Nadal’s sprint to the Grand Slam record has been turned into a arduous marathon
The good news: Andy Murray is finally started showing some consistency on the big stage (having reached the Semi-Final or better in the 3 Grand Slams so far this year).
The bad news: Andy Murray is yet to win a grand slam, and the current dominance of Djokovic, coupled with the continued presence of Nadal and Federer will only make that task more difficult. He’ll need as much help from his ‘green-light’ diet as Djokovic got from the gluten-free diet
This lot can beat the Elite players on a good day. Well, make that 3 of the Elite players since nobody seems to be able to beat Djokovic right now
Tsonga has the repertoire to be the best player in the world. He gave us a taste of how dominant he can be , as he breezed through the field on his way to the 2008 Australian open finals. While injuries limited his effectiveness in 2009 and 2010, he is enjoying a resurgence in the 2nd half of 2011.
He will however have to figure out a way to solve the Djokovic puzzle before the Grand Slams start rolling in
Del-Potro has continued a steady return to form since returning from a serious wrist injury that kept him from Tennis from 2010. Not quite at the level he was in 2009, but he will be happy with the progress he has made this season.
All the talent in the World, but you sometimes feel that self-doubt is the only thing keeping him from breaking into the Elite-Class. Recent success against Federer is encouraging but not convincing. While Monfils (see below) needs to alter his game, Berdych needs to alter his mindset.
Soderling has flourished over the last 2 years, which is no surprise give the injuries that ravaged the earlier part of his career. He has had a good year on the tour with 4 titles in 2011. He will however be disappointed with his grand-slam performance, with a solitary quarter-Final appearance at the French Open as his best showing. The Grand Slam disappointment will be compounded if he does not recover (from a wrist injury) in time to participate in the US Open
Mardy and Les Messieurs:
They’ll make the odd Grand Slam Quarter-Final, but they don’t really scare the Elite four
Marty’s recent excellent form might make some question why he is not up one cadre, but he is yet to make a Grand Slam Semi Final, or beat the big boys on the big stage. He is in that window of opportunity where his experience is making him play the best Tennis of his career, and his age isn’t slowing him down yet. You have to wonder if he can maintain the good run of form beyond the 2012 season, and if he win a Grand-Slam in that limited window
Monfils is having his best year as pro, as he recently achieved a career high in rankings, and he is one of the most exciting players to watch on tour. So he should be getting some love here right? Wrong! As long as he continues to camp behind the baseline and not come to the net, he will struggle against the game’s elite players (he is 3-11 in career finals)
Similar sized (about 6 feet) right handed French players with great backhand shots, you might as well be talking of the same player when looking at Simon and Gasquet. their names would probably be higher on this chart if they were a big bigger (in the 6’3 – 6’4 range).
I am a big fan of Gasquet single handed backhand shot and I think he is the (slightly) better player of the two. However, I also feel the ceiling for both players is the lower end of the top 10 rankings. There are bigger players who hit the ball harder and move just as well.
REST OF THE SCORE :
Rounding out the top 20
Cilic has had a relatively disappointing 2011, after being a borderline top 10 player in 2009 and 2010. His talent cannot be denied, and at just 22, you know its only a matter of time till he breaks into the top 10 for an extended stay.
John moves well for his size, and his serve will always win him matches against inferior opposition and keep him competitive against the top players.
The other top Swiss player has struggled a little since the French Open, but he is the kind of player who can easily put solid run to the US open Quarter Finals. Sadly, he lacks the game, frame or athleticism to challenge the top players on a consistent basis.
The most appropriate saying for Ferrer is ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog’. But at just 5’9, even the fight in this brave dog submits to the power and athleticism of most of today’s top players.
Hopefully, Verdasco isn’t remembered as the man who gave Rafa a few good matches, but never managed to beat him. He was Quarter-Finalist in the past 2 US Opens, but his current form suggests he’ll be gone in the 1st week in 2011.
Almagro plays a lot, and wins a lot (has 3 ATP titles to his name in 2011), and because of that he is deservedly a top 10 player in the ATP rankings. His 2-6 record against the top 12 players on our power rankings show that his position here is justified.
Big serving Canadian youngster is enjoying his 1st season in the spotlight. Playing a lot more tennis than he is used has understandably cooled him off a bit in the 2nd half of the year. He is certainly on the rise though, as he ranks in the top 10 in Aces, percentage of 1st serve points won and percentage of service games won.
The final spot on the power rankings was a toss-up between Serbians Trocki and Janko Tipsarevic, but Troicki nicks it as he has a slightly better (even if undistinguished) record at Grand Slams and also has one career ATP title.
MISSED THE CUT:
Some players on the outside looking in, and some who definitely don’t deserve to be in
Andy Roddick has had a great career, but lingering talk of about him winning another grand slam is just plain ridiculous. The bets should be on how many more Grand Slam quarter Final runs he has in him (I say 3 or less). Wimbledon 2009 was probably his ‘adieu’ on the big stage.
The oldest man in the ATP top 100 has been making a splash lately, and is not about to ride off quietly into the sunset. He has a vast array of shots and can be a major headache for top players. Enjoying a rejuvenation of his career in 2011.
With his freestyle image and personality, you just imagine Janko in a Tie-Dye t-shirt at an indie rock concert when he’s not on court. His playing style and array of shots also has an ‘indie’ feel (similar to Stepanek) and he is enjoying his best year as a pro.
Lot’s of European women (including Andy Murray’s mum) will be angered by the non-inclusion of ‘Deliciano’ in the top-20. We will however stand by our decision to exclude him, and his 1-11 record against our top 20 (with the lone victory coming against a rising Milos Raonic) reinforces our stand.
A favourite of Tennis insiders (he was partly raised on the tour), Dolgopolov has made tremendous progress in 2011. He is an exciting player to watch, but you wonder if his size and health will not be too big a barrier to overcome in his quest to be a top 10 player.