How Long Can Federer Retain His No. 1 Ranking?

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How Long Can Federer Retain His No. 1 Ranking?
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It's time to regroup, as all the top players pack away their Olympic medals as well as a few dashed dreams.

The 2012 Summer Olympics are over—at least as far as tennis at the All England Club is concerned.

Reality returns with the traditional tennis calendar beckoning, as action immediately gets underway in Canada.

On the final Sunday of the Olympics, world No. 1 Roger Federer led world No. 2 Novak Djokovic by 75 ATP ranking points as he headed into his gold medal match. 

For the Summer Games, the gold medal winner in tennis receives 750 points, while the silver medal winner gains 450 points. The bronze medalist adds 340 points, and the loser of the bronze medal (fourth place) walks away with 270 points.

If Djokovic had won his semifinal match against Andy Murray, with a chance to win gold, the Serb could have taken over the No. 1 ranking by 325 points.

But that did not happen.

In a battle for bronze on Aug. 5, Djokovic faced off against Juan Martin del Potro, who just played one of the longest, most intense matches in Olympic tennis history against the top seed Federer, losing 6-3, 6-7, 17-19. Their Olympic semifinal match lasted more than four hours, and it stood to reason that the Argentine would have little left physically and emotionally after coming so very close to winning that match over Federer.

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Remarkably, del Potro defeated Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 to become the very first Argentine to win a singles medal at the Olympics, taking home the bronze for his efforts.

On the other hand, Federer could not bounce back from the protracted match against del Potro to secure a win against Murray. Instead, Federer fell in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in just under two hours.

The British fans loved it, backing the countryman representing them in these Olympic Games.

It was a brilliant performance by Murray and a substandard one for Federer.

Failing in his fourth try for a gold medal, one has to wonder if Federer can muster enough game to return to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for try No. 5. That would be Federer's 18th season on tour. 

On Aug. 6, Djokovic will gain 270 points while Federer adds 450 points as the winner of a silver medal. Even in a losing effort, Federer will retain the No. 1 spot as the tour moves on to the U.S. summer hard-court season, which includes two back-to-back ATP Masters tournaments up first in August.

The big question for most is, will Federer still be the No. 1 seed at the upcoming U.S. Open?

The first hard-court tournament starting Aug. 6 is the Rogers Cup, which this year is being held in Toronto for the men. Djokovic won the tournament in 2011, which means he is defending 1,000 points next week since ATP Masters tournament winners gain that many points.

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On an annual basis, the points won one year ago fall off while the points won this year for the same tournament are added on—meaning Djokovic must defend his Rogers Cup title to retain his current point total.

The bottom line for the world No. 2 becomes just trying to stay even, because Djokovic cannot add more than 1,000 points at the Rogers Cup. Anything less than total victory, and the Serb will lose points.

Federer went out in the third round at the Rogers Cup in 2011, losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 4-6, 6-1. Consequently, Federer is defending only 90 points in 2012.

And since Federer will not be returning to Canada this year, he will lose those 90 points.

Murray went out in the second round in Canada, so he will be losing only 10 points. Nadal also went out early in the second round, taking 10 points with him for his efforts.

For Murray, any advancement past the second round will add to his current ATP point total for the year. News is, of course, that Nadal also is opting out of Canada this summer, which will do little to affect his current ranking points total.

At the conclusion of the Rogers Cup as the tour heads to Cincinnati, Murray returns as the defending champion. He will be defending 1,000 points, as he faced Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final; the Serb will be defending the 600 points he won in Cincinnati.

Federer lost in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, amassing 180 points while Nadal also fell in the quarterfinals to receive the same 180 points.

In summary, as the top four men head into the U.S. Open, Federer has the opportunity to add as many as 820 points before heading to New York.

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Djokovic can gain only 400 points. Nadal can add another 820 points to his yearly total, and Murray 990 points prior to the start of the U.S. Open.

Add those points to their current totals:

  • Federer: 11,525 + 820 = 12,345
  • Djokovic: 11,270 + 400 = 11,670
  • Nadal: 8,905 + 820 = 9,725
  • Murray: 8,210 + 990 = 9,200

Federer will retain his No. 1 ranking unless something catastrophic happens between Aug. 5 and the start of the U.S. Open. Ultimately, regardless of the points awarded between the Olympics and the U.S. Open, the top-four ranked players in the world will once again be seeded in the top four spots at Flushing Meadows.

There, they will patiently await the U.S. Open draw to see who, in all probability, will be his opponent in the upcoming semifinals.

The U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam of the season, gets underway Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. So far, each of the top four have won a Grand Slam except Murray; Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open, Nadal the French Open and Federer, Wimbledon.

Will Murray capitalize on his Olympic gold medal win to take the title in New York? Will he climb in the rankings to take over the No. 2 spot? 

Can Federer retain his No. 1 ranking past the U.S. Open?

It all begins again Aug. 6.

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