Rafael Nadal Tops the Tennis Power Rankings Heading into Wimbledon

JA AllenSenior Writer IJune 22, 2012

Rafael Nadal Tops the Tennis Power Rankings Heading into Wimbledon

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    The tennis power ranking formula, as created by Feng Rong of B/R for this series, was developed to objectively measure a tennis player’s current form on court.

    It is accomplished by weighting outcomes so that the four most recent tournament results count the most. 

    This listing assesses the power in the men’s game as players get ready to do battle on the stately courts of Wimbledon after leaving behind the normally dusty environment of Stade Roland Garros.

    In 2012, however, we remember vividly the rains that fell so profusely in Paris during the second week of the Grand Slam tournament, delaying the final on Court Phillippe Chatrier until Monday.

    Wimbledon, with its new Centre Court retractable roof, will be spared such a troubled final in 2012 because now the roof can be closed and lighting utilized, if needed.

    As expected, the talk surrounding this year's Wimbledon centers on which of the top three men will win this year's trophy.  These three individuals have dominated the tournament for so long that no one else is seriously considered as a contender.

    Who will win this year’s Wimbledon crown? No one knows, of course.

    Will it be one of the top 10 in our Power Listing? Only time will tell. 

    We survey the top 10 men listed in our ranking, then speculate on their potential for winning the Wimbledon championship.

    We also take the opportunity to look at some other potential winners at the All England Club in 2012. 

10. Andy Murray, Great Britain

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    Last Power Ranking: 8; ATP Ranking: 4

    Last Four Tournaments: Queen’s Club [Round 2], Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist],  Rome [Round 3], Barcelona [Quarterfinalist].

    Power Ranking Points: 218

    After signing with Coach Ivan Lendl, Murray’s expectations, especially on clay, heightened. 

    But after going out in the quarterfinals of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, followed by a third-round exit in Rome, the shine seemed to dim on the new pupil-coach relationship.

    It did not help when David Ferrer dispatched Murray in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut sent Murray packing after the Scot’s first match at the Queen’s Club where Murray was the defending champion.

    Life for the world No. 4 does not get any easier as Wimbledon begins on June 25. As usual, the pressure to win will be immense, just as it is at every Wimbledon tournament.

    The hometown fans long to see a native win the tournament again.  No Brit has done so since Fred Perry in 1936.

    Murray and his entourage should not panic, however, because the world No. 4 is only 25 and has a few more years to take that next giant step—winning a major. 

    What the world will be wondering at this point is—will it be at Wimbledon in 2012? 


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Murray, sitting as the No. 4 seed remains fourth in line to make the final at the All England Club, according to most oddsmakers.

    The Scot has made the semifinals for the past three years. For two consecutive years, Murray has not found a way to defeat Nadal in his semifinal matches. In 2009, Murray lost to Andy Roddick, who advanced to meet Federer in the final.

    Murray remains on the precipice, not able to make that large leap into a Wimbledon final.

    From his play the past two months, it does not appear that Murray will accomplish the gigantic task of winning Wimbledon in 2012.

    More than likely, the Scot will face too much pressure and be too uncertain of his game.

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France

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    Last Power Ranking: 2; ATP Ranking: 5

    Last Four Tournaments: Queen’s Club [Round 3], Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist], Rome [Quarterfinalist], Madrid [Round 3].

    Power Ranking Points: 231

    After playing a stunning French Open quarterfinal match against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga let the dreams of a nation slip through his fingers as he lost the battle in five sets.

    This was after he escaped another five-set marathon with Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. 

    There is no athlete playing tennis with more natural ability than Tsonga who, at age 27, needs to make his presence felt at the very top of the men’s game.

    After injuring his finger in a fall, Tsonga was dismissed from the Wimbledon warmup Queen’s Club Tournament in the third round.

    There was speculation that the world No. 5 would not be able to play Wimbledon in 2012 because of this injury. But all tennis fans hope this is not the case. 

    Tsonga’s game has steadily improved, and the Frenchman is now ranked just outside the top four. Most believe that his best and most consistent tennis is yet to come, but it needs to come quickly before time runs out for the crowd-pleasing Frenchman.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Last year Tsonga advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals after an extraordinary quarterfinal match with Roger Federer. Federer led two sets to love when Tsonga began the long road back into the match.

    Tsonga won the last three sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win the match. Then, the Frenchman extended Djokovic to four sets before folding.

    But certainly, Tsonga has the game to win it all. The question centers on his discipline and his will to win. These assets seem lacking so far.

    Hopefully, if able to play, Tsonga will prove all his detractors wrong.  The oddsmakers remain lukewarm as to the Frenchman's chances to date.

8. Nicolas Almagro, Spain

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    Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 11

    Last Four Tournaments: Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist], Nice [Winner], Rome [Round 3], Madrid [Round 3].

    Power Ranking Points: 276

    Nicolas Almagro constructed a very favorable clay-court record in 2012, which seems reasonable since clay is his surface of choice.

    Like most of the players from Spain, Almagro traditionally does his best work on the red dirt, allowing him to keep his ranking high.

    Unfortunately for Almagro, he met Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the French Open.

    Although he played Nadal stroke for stroke in the first set, once Almagro lost the first set tiebreak, he faded quickly—allowing Nadal to win the match in straight sets.

    It is difficult for any of his countryman to defeat Nadal—especially on clay. 

    Almagro simply lacks the tools necessary to defeat the world No. 2 on clay. 

    But Almagro did well enough to break into our power rankings in the No. 8 spot.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Almagro has never shown any flair or preference for the grass.

    In his seven appearances at the All England Club, Almagro has not advanced beyond the third round.

    In over half of his Wimbledon entries, moreover, the Spaniard was dismissed in his opening match.

    A good outing for Almagro at Wimbledon in 2012 would be to make it to Week 2—the quarterfinals. But even that would be a stretch. 

    Grass does nothing for the Almagro game.

7. Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina

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    Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 9

    Last Four Tournaments: Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist], Rome [Round 3], Madrid [Semifinalist], Estoril [Winner].

    Power Ranking Points: 294

    Juan Martin del Potro has slowly worked his way back into the men’s top 10.

    After winning the 2009 U.S. Open, Del Potro suffered from a wrist injury which eventually required surgery and an extended recovery period.

    Gradually, the Argentine has worked his way back up in the rankings. Tennis pundits are waiting for Del Potro, now age 23,  to regain the game he left behind in 2009 after defeating both Nadal and Federer to win the U.S. Open. 

    This year, after winning on the clay at Estoril and making the semifinals in Madrid, the expectation for the Argentine was a breakthrough at the French Open.

    He advanced to the quarterfinals at Stade Roland Garros, where he met Roger Federer. After winning the first two sets, Del Potro faded against Federer who came back to win their quarterfinal match in five sets. 

    It was a disappointing result for the Argentine.

    Del Potro has lost to Federer five times in 2012 and has a difficult time beating any player ranked higher than him. 

    As Wimbledon gets underway, most look for Del Potro to find his range at the U.S. Open rather than on the green lawns of the All-England Club.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Del Potro has never done well on the green lawns of Wimbledon, where the low bounces cause him all sorts of problems.

    His fourth-round appearance in 2011 marks his furthest advancement to date.  In three other tries, Del Potro was excused in the second round. 

    There is, therefore, no reason to expect much of the Argentine this year. 

    Of course, without any pressure, the big Argentine may surprise a few people. But chances are, just surviving to Week 2 would be regarded as a positive for Del Potro and his team.

6. Marin Cilic, Croatia 

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    Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 18

    Last Four Tournaments: Queen’s Club [Winner], Roland Garros [Round 3], Rome [Round 1], Madrid [Round 3].

    Power Ranking Points: 312

    Marin Cilic was the unexpected winner of the Queen’s Club tournament when David Nalbandian was defaulted from the final after inadvertently hurting a line judge.

    Regardless, Cilic got the win, even after losing the opening set tiebreak.

    The 23-year old Croat has long been on the tennis world radar, as pundits awaited his breakthrough to the top of the men’s game.

    The win at the Queen’s Club propelled Cilic into the men’s top 20 just in time for the start of Wimbledon.

    His highest ranking, however, came in February of 2010 when he was ranked No. 9. 

    This year, Cilic was sidelined for the first seven weeks with a knee injury, missing the 2012 Australian Open.

    But he has been playing his way back into form in time for the summer season.

    Still quite young, Cilic shows moments of brilliance on court but normally lacks the consistency to play well for an extended period of time.

    This may be the year the Croat makes his presence felt at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Cilic was playing some very good tennis during his campaign at the Queen’s Club as he advanced to the final. There is every reason to believe he could capitalize and take advantage at Wimbledon as play gets underway next week.

    The Croat would make an excellent dark horse to win the tournament at the All-England Club based on recent play.

    On the other hand, Cilic has been dismissed in the first round of the tournament for the the past two years. 

    Cilic is another player who may be satisfied just to make it to Week 2 even while he hoped for more.

5. Tommy Haas, Germany

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    Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 49

    Last Four Tournaments: Halle [Winner], Roland Garros [Round 3], Munich [Semifinalist], Miami [Round 2].

    Power Ranking Points: 322

    Tommy Haas stunned the tennis world by upsetting Roger Federer during the Gerry Weber final in Halle, Germany.

    The Swiss had aimed to capture his sixth title at Halle, a grass-court warm-up tournament held prior to Wimbledon. 

    The win helped propel the 34-year-old Haas into the fifth spot in this current power ranking.

    Haas has come back numerous times in his career after serious injuries and subsequent surgeries.

    Once ranked as high as No. 3 in the world in 2002, Haas missed almost all of 2003 with injury.  Later, he was out for over a year in 2010 and 2011 dealing with right hip and shoulder surgeries.

    Coming back this time has been a slow, tedious process, but it appears to be paying dividends considering the German’s results this past week. 

    Haas’ strength is his versatile play—being able to adapt his attack to any opponent’s style.  Haas can do it all—playing at the net, volleying or firing returns with his strong backhand up the line. 

    His numerous injuries and his lack of consistency often left Haas falling short of his potential. 


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Even though Haas did very well on the grass by winning the Gerry Weber Open, winning Wimbledon with its five-set format will be out of reach for a man who had to qualify in order to play at the French Open.

    Haas’ lack of match play will be a serious detriment to his ability to win a major at this point in his career. 

    Haas made a serious run during Wimbledon in 2009, advancing to the semifinals where the German lost to Roger Federer in straight sets.

    Do not expect Haas to advance that far in 2012.

4. David Ferrer, Spain

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    Last Power Ranking: 3; ATP Ranking: 6

    Last Four Tournaments: Roland Garros [Semifinalist], Rome [Semifinalist], Madrid [Quarterfinalist], Barcelona [Finalist].

    Power Ranking Points: 500

    David Ferrer, as usual, did very well on the clay in 2012.

    Aside from going out in the second round at Monte Carlo to Thomaz Belluci of Brazil, Ferrer managed to go deep into the rest of the clay-court tournaments.

    He was dismissed only when the Spaniard faced his countryman Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer in Madrid.

    As is true of most Spanish players, Ferrer relishes playing on clay. The current world No. 6 uses this part of the tennis season to cement his ranking in the men’s top 10.

    The problem for Ferrer remains beating those few players ranked above him. 

    This week Ferrer is the No. 1 seed at the UNICEF Open in the Netherlands, where he is still winning to date. It is Ferrer’s first tournament since the French Open and his first on grass.

    The aggressive defensive and offensive play of Ferrer makes him a very difficult opponent to overcome because the man never quits on a point until he is solidly beaten.

    He is known on tour as the “energizer bunny” because of his never-ending ability to play on.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Ferrer enters Wimbledon as the No. 7 seed behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds respectively. Both of these men reached the semifinals in the past two years.

    In his nine appearances at the All England Club, Ferrer’s furthest advancement in the draw has been the fourth round—which he has reached during the past two years.

    Realistically, Ferrer has little chance to win the tournament, but he has a better chance to improve upon his fourth-round finishes—stretching his advantage into Week 2.

3. Roger Federer, Switzerland

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    Last Power Ranking: 1; ATP Ranking: 3

    Last Four Tournaments: Halle [Finalist], Roland Garros [Semifinalist], Rome [Semifinalist], Madrid [Winner].

    Power Ranking Points: 749

    No one feels as comfortable as Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It feels like coming home.

    To date, Federer has managed a very successful 2012. Aside from his early dismissal by Andy Roddick at Miami and John Isner during their Davis Cup match in February, Federer has spent much of his time winning tournaments again.

    He has gathered in a few more trophies at Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid.

    Federer was a finalist in Halle and a semifinalist in Doha, the Australian Open, and Roland Garros.

    The winner of 16 Grand Slam tournaments looks forward to another campaign at the All England Club as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, since tennis will be staged on the same green lawns.

    Unfortunately, the Swiss never seemed to find the same form at Roland Garros in 2012 that he displayed in 2011.

    But that aside, his play throughout the year has been top-notch, which puts Federer in an excellent position not only to win his seventh Wimbledon title but to recapture his No. 1 ranking with a win on Championship Sunday.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    One thing for sure is that Roger Federer knows how to win Wimbledon championships. He has done so six times, including five consecutive titles from 2003-2007.

    Losing to Nadal in 2008, Federer came back to recapture the title in 2009 in an epic five-set final against America Andy Roddick.

    Yet, the past two years, Federer has only reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals upset in 2010 by Tomas Berdych and in 2011 by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. 

    Both men went on to lose—Tsonga in the semifinals and Berdych in the finals—while Federer packed his bags, unaccustomed to leaving Centre Court so early.

    As the players enter Wimbledon in 2012, Federer still takes a back seat to favorites Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, while pundits, fans and bookies look for predictable winners. Yet Federer’s fans remain convinced that there is another win in the books for the Swiss on Centre Court.

    It would be foolish to overlook Federer as a possible winner at Wimbledon in 2012.

    His motivation? Another title would move Federer equal to Pete Sampras, who owns seven championships at the All-England Club. It would also add another Grand Slam trophy to Federer's record-setting 16 titles.

    What more impetus does a player need?

2. Novak Djokovic, Serbia

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    Last Power Ranking: 5; ATP Ranking: 1

    Last Four Tournaments: Roland Garros [Finalist], Rome [Finalist], Madrid [Quarter finalist], Monte Carlo [Finalist].

    Power Ranking Points: 817

    After Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open in a thrilling five-set final, the Serbian camp breathed a collective sigh of relief because the world No. 1 had just won his third consecutive Grand Slam title—each one over Nadal.

    Sporting a newfound regimen for winning, including a restricted diet and self-discipline, Novak Djokovic continued his winning ways.

    2012, however, did not go the way of 2011 when Djokovic remained undefeated until the 2011 French Open semifinals. It was at that juncture that  world No. 3 Roger Federer ended Djokovic’s 2011 winning streak.

    After the 2012 Australian Open victory, however, the Serb lost to Andy Murray in the Dubai semifinals then fell to American John Isner in the semifinals at Indian Wells. 

    The magic disappeared.

    Even though the Serb would come back to win again in Miami, the clay-court season began, and Djokovic found himself coming up short in finals against Nadal—finals that he had won just a year ago.

    Still, Djokovic continued to reach finals. Now, the Serb and his camp hope to recapture the magic on the green lawns of Wimbledon—leaving the clay to Nadal until another year.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    After wiping off the red dust of a fairly successful clay-court season, Djokovic decided to skip the usual practice of entering a grass warm-up tournament.

    This is the same routine Djokovic followed a year ago.

    Now after a lengthy rest, the Serb will be ready to do battle on the green lawns of Wimbledon where he is the defending champion.

    Most expect the world No. 1 to make it to the final again and there to face Nadal, who is determined to win his third championship at the All-England Club.

    Should the two top seeds make it, the final promises to be another epic with no rain or bad light to impede their final match as happened at this year's French Open.

    There is much riding on the outcome, including the No. 1 ranking. 

1. Rafael Nadal, Spain

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    Last Power Ranking: 6; ATP Ranking: 2

    Last Four Tournaments: Halle [Quarter-finalist], Roland Garros [Winner], Rome [Winner], Madrid [Round 3].

    Power Ranking Points: 1,260

    After winning his seventh French Open title, Rafael Nadal tops this power ranking, adding considerable momentum to his game as the 2012 Wimbledon Championships get underway.

    After watching world No. 1 Novak Djokovic overtake him for the top spot almost a full year ago, Nadal has ambitions to reclaim his ranking by winning the tournament at the All-England Club for the third time.

    Nadal defeated Djokovic in back-to-back finals in Rome and at Roland Garros, plus obtaining an earlier win over the Serb in Monte Carlo. These wins gave the world No. 2 some much needed confidence.

    Belief was something Nadal sorely needed—after Djokovic defeated Nadal in every tournament they contested in 2011—including those on clay.

    Of course, all of Nadal’s wins this year have come on the red dirt, where the Majorcan is considered the best. Whether Nadal can continue his clay-court dominance on grass is yet to be seen. 

    The world No. 2 was dismissed early in his grass-court warm up event in Halle, losing to German Phillipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals. Most, however, do not regard the loss as reason to be concerned.

    Nadal won every tournament he entered on clay except Madrid, where he complained loudly about court conditions including the blue clay.

    The clay season renewed his confidence and aggression and jettisoned Nadal to the top of our power rankings once again.


    Wimbledon Outlook

    Nadal certainly has the game to win the tournament at Wimbledon because he has won the championship trophy twice—in 2008 and 2010.

    The epic match with Federer in 2008 has gone down in history as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time, with Nadal winning in the fading light of Centre Court, denying Federer his sixth consecutive Wimbledon championship.

    In 2010 Nadal defeated surprise finalist Tomas Berdych in straight sets—a far easier match than Nadal’s 2008 win. In 2011 Nadal faced his newest nemesis, Novak Djokovic who had just claimed the No. 1 ranking. Nadal would lose this Grand Slam final in four sets and not win another one until this year’s French Open.

    The focus of this year’s championship remains centered on a Djokovic-Nadal final. As the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, they will not meet unless both make the finals.

    The odds so far favor them doing just that.  If so, it will be an epic duel with one of them either cementing his place at the top or reclaiming a lost No. 1 ranking.

Other Potential Wimbledon Winners:

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    John Isner: ATP Ranking No. 10

    Although ranked No. 10 by the ATP, Wimbledon has seeded the top American at No. 11 behind Mardy Fish, who has been injured and unable to play of late.

    The big serving American’s play has improved dramatically over the past year as Isner moved up the ranking ladder, making his way into the men’s top 10.

    Nobody wants to face Isner on court because of his big booming serve and his powerful forehand. He is a dangerous player—one capable of defeating anyone.


    Tomas Berdych: ATP Ranking No. 7

    Czech Tomas Berdych has the game to win on the grass at Wimbledon. He has proven his potential by making the finals in 2010, upsetting Federer in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

    Although he went out early in Halle in 2012, Berdych will be itching to get back into the finals once again where he feels he can finally win a major.

    Much will depend on his draw because Berdych will need some time to work his way through the draw. Once Berdych finds his stride, however, he can be impossible to stop—especially if he masters his nerves.


    Milos Raonic: ATP Ranking No. 22

    The big serving Canadian is ready to make his mark at this year’s Wimbledon. Last year, if you recall, Raonic was scheduled to meet Nadal when the rains came. After slipping and injuring himself, Raonic had to withdraw from the tournament before he could meet Nadal in third round.

    This year the Canadian comes in healthy, hoping to make an impact. Much is expected of the 21-year-old, who loves the hard courts but shows real potential on the grass.

    This is another player none of the top guys wish to face early. On a surface where good serving is imperative, Raonic could go a long, long way.


    Bernard Tomic: ATP Ranking No. 27

    The Australian tennis community expects this young man, Bernard Tomic, to become their new standard bearer now that Lleyton Hewitt is fading from the top of the men’s game, riddled with injuries.

    Tomic showed every sign of not disappointing them until retiring early in Halle at the Gerry Weber tournament during a match with eventual champion Tommy Haas. Then Tomic lost his way at the AEGON International tournament by losing to Fabio Fognini in the second round.

    Temporarily off track, Tomic will have to regroup in order to repeat his success at Wimbledon from a year ago. In 2011 young Tomic advanced to the quarterfinals after going through qualifying. He lost to eventual champion Novak Djokivc.

    Hopefully Tomic can regain his form and have the impact many expect of him at this year’s tournament.


    The power-ranking series is authored by JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Feng Rong, whose formula provides the rankings.