Roger Federer gone in the second round of Wimbledon 2013.
We are used to seeing Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray hold various ranking spots within the top four in men's tennis. They have existed in this select state for the past several years. But that is changing.
Since Wimbledon concluded in 2013, Federer has fallen to No. 5 in the ATP rankings. It marks the first time in a decade that the former world No. 1 was out of the top four.
He recorded his last No. 5 spot prior to the start of Wimbledon in 2003, two weeks before he won the first of his seven titles at the All England Club. This year he fell in the second round as the defending Wimbledon champion. It cost him his No. 3 ranking.
Federer has won only one title in 2013 and is sixth in line for the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals, an event featuring the top eight men of the 2013 season.
Nadal, who missed almost eight months on tour after Wimbledon in 2012, also fell to No. 5 earlier this year. He has since returned to No. 4 mainly because of his successes on clay this spring and the fact that Federer dropped 2,000 points after Wimbledon.
Moreover, Nadal has won only one tournament not on clay in over a year—Indian Wells in 2013. He was ejected in the opening round of Wimbledon this year after being dismissed in the second round a year ago.
His last title on hard courts prior to his win this year at Indian Wells was in Tokyo in October of 2010, two-and-a-half years ago.
Nadal's knees continue to be of primary concern, especially on the synthetic surfaces, where the constant pounding engendered by his very aggressive style of play does untold damage to his joints.
Chances are that Nadal will continue to be one of the favorites on clay for many years to come, but his years of winning big on hard courts may well be a thing of the past.
That does not mean, however, that Nadal or Federer are done winning. They will have more victories, and win more Grand Slams. But their years of dominating at the top of the men’s game may soon be a thing of the past.
That opens the door wide for del Potro, whose time has arrived at long last. The first signal will come when the Argentine wins the U.S. Open for the second time and ascends to world No. 4 once again.