5 Tennis Players Significantly Better Than Their 2012 Ranking

Michael Ann McKinlayContributor IIIOctober 4, 2012

5 Tennis Players Significantly Better Than Their 2012 Ranking

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    This year's tennis season has seen breakthrough stars, like Victoria Azarenka becoming world No. 1 for the first time in her career, and old favorites, such as Roger Federer regaining the top spot. 

    Whether players admit it or not, rankings are on their minds throughout the tennis season, as Novak Djokovic noted this past week (via tennis.com) in China:

    “It is still open, the No. 1 spot of the world. Obviously I will try to dedicate myself and focus on every tournament that I play. I try not to think about what's going to happen at the end of the season because there is still more than a few tournaments to go here in Asia and then the indoor season in Europe. Everything is possible, but I will try to not think about calculations, not think about any other players' results, and just concentrate on my own game.”

    Significant effort must be put in during each tournament in order to move up in the rankings, plus go further in the rounds than in the previous year.

    Some players were hampered by health concerns and injuries, however, and thus saw a decrease in their ranking. 

    Lets look at five players that, because of setbacks that have led to their lack of play, are ranked lower than in past years.  

Gaël Monfils (Ranked No. 44)

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    Gaël Monfils started out the season strong, defeating Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the Qatar Open, but eventually lost the final to countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Injuries started to creep back up, as Monfils lost early in Australia, and was forced to withdraw from the other three Slams of the season due to a right knee injury. 

    Monfils returned to the tour after the US Open, reaching the semifinals in Metz and quarterfinals in Bangkok. He had to pull out this week in Japan, however, citing again a right knee injury. 

    The talented Frenchman is slowly on the comeback trail, hoping to finish the season strong. Monfils was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world last July, and is looking to return to the top ten.

Andrea Petkovic (Ranked No. 61)

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    Entertaining both on the court and online, this German has also been sidelined with injuries for most of the 2012 season, and as such, her ranking has dipped outside the top 50.

    Last year, she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals by defeating Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova along the way, and again was in the final eight at the French Open and US Open. Later that fall, she was ranked No. 9 in the world, her highest ranking to date.

    2012 was a season hampered by numerous injuries (right ankle, lower back) and Petkovic only played one Grand Slam—at New York, losing in straight sets in the first round.

    Like Monfils, Petkovic is a top ten player and if healthy enough next season, she can duplicate her 2011 season. 

Vera Zvonareva (Ranked No. 48)

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    The Russian had a disappointing 2012 season, due to a hip and shoulder injury and breathing issues later on this summer, and as such, is currently ranked No. 48 in the world. In her most recent match, she experienced a beatdown from Serena Williams in the fourth round of the Olympics, losing 6-1, 6-0. 

    The previous four seasons, Zvonareva was ranked inside the top ten, and reached two Grand Slam finals in 2010, at Wimbledon and the US Open, ending the year ranked No. 2.  Zvonareva is known for her movement and net play (thanks to her success in doubles) and it’s obvious this recent respiratory illness has hindered her fitness. 

Rafael Nadal (Ranked No. 4)

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    Rafael Nadal has fallen to No. 4 in the world, due to his lack of play since his shocking early Wimbledon loss in June. The last time he was ranked outside the top three dates back to 2010 (briefly) and before that, May 2005.

    Hampered by a knee injury, Nadal was forced to pull out of major events, including defending his gold medal and the year’s final Slam in New York.

    Despite all of that, Nadal played well during the early part of the season, almost defeating Novak Djokovic in the longest ever Australian Open final, winning Monte Carlo and Rome Master Series events and the highlight of them all, winning his record seventh title in Paris.

    The good news for Nadal fans is that he is targeted to return in December for an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi (via ESPN) and wants to compete at the 2013 Australian Open.

    Nadal is an 11-time Grand Slam champion, and hopes to bounce back after his 2012 knee setbacks. 

Serena Williams (Ranked No. 4)

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    Serena Williams, the only player on the list to not suffer a major injury setback this season, is ranked low for someone who's won the last three major events, including two gold medals (singles and doubles), and two Grand Slams (Wimbledon and US Open).  She has played a lighter schedule than the woman ranked above her, however; Serena has played 12 tournaments (excluding Fed Cup) compared to Agnieszka Radwanska’s 20 tournaments played. 

    If Serena maintains her recent dominant form, she will most likely return to the top of the rankings early next season.