Wimbledon 2014 is shaking up the ATP rankings and foreshadowing which players will best be able to rise in the summer hard-courts series, the U.S. Open and the Race to London for the No. 1 ranking.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s defeat in the fourth round was the biggest domino in the haziness that still hovers over the top spot in the rankings. With the semifinals and a major title still impending, there are a few important possibilities to determine the final pecking order this weekend.
How can World No. 2 Novak Djokovic close the gap and seize the No. 1 crown? How high can his opponent and rising star Grigor Dimitrov climb into the rankings?
What about the Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic semifinal? What does each player stand to gain, besides the ultimate goal of a Wimbledon final championship?
Wimbledon Deciding the Battle for No. 1
Nadal might have been in better shape after a street brawl than enduring another grinding clay-court season, capped off by a triumphant but exhausting ninth French Open title. Many of his fans hoped that a big performance at Wimbledon could increase his hold on the No. 1 ranking and add to his 12,500 points.
While Nadal was defending only 10 points from last year’s first-round flop against Steve Darcis, rival Djokovic would need to get to the finals just to keep his 12,330 points.
Nadal would have kept his No. 1 ranking with a semifinal appearance, regardless of what Djokovic did. Anything more from Nadal or less than Djokovc would have further increased his lead. His fourth-round loss did add 170 points to his ranking, for a current total of 12,670, but it was a modestly disappointing addition.
With Nadal out, Djokovic now controls his destiny for the No. 1 ranking. For the moment, his semifinal appearance gives him 11,850 points. If he loses to Dimitrov, he will stay at No. 2, trailing Nadal by 820 points.
If Djokovic gets to the final and loses, he will return to his pre-tournament total of 12,330 points and trail Nadal by 340 points.
But if Djokovic wins his second Wimbledon title this weekend, he will add another 800 points to reclaim the No. 1 ranking and lead Nadal by 460 points (13,130-12,670).
The summer outlook for Djokovic is rosy. In 2013, he saw Nadal collect 4,000 points in winning the Canada Open, the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the U.S. Open. It’s very unlikely Nadal will sweep this trio again, and Djokovic can further distance himself from his rival by winning one of two of these titles.
Winning Wimbledon would put Djokovic firmly in the driver’s seat to finish the rest of the year at No. 1.
For Nadal, his third stint at No. 1 could end with 141 career weeks at the top. Historically, he has struggled in the autumn tournaments and would need to turn this around to compete for the year-end No. 1 crown. It’s not going to be easy for Nadal to return to No. 1 again, unless he can be healthy, revitalized and dominant in big matches, especially at majors.
Djokovic will undoubtedly pick up more than his 101 career weeks at the top. He chases the historical totals of Andre Agassi (101 weeks) and Bjorn Borg (109 weeks) for the seventh-most weeks at No. 1. Further ahead is Nadal and John McEnroe (170 weeks) for a best-case scenario of fifth place on this list. Catching the top four players (Federer, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors) is another stratosphere at this point.
Other Players Trending at Wimbledon
Wimbledon is also a barometer of which players are trending up and down. This is the entrance to the long and winding summer road to the U.S. Open, to the Far East and eventually full circle to London’s WTF year-end final.
- Lukasz Kubot: Last year, he was in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in an all-Polish showdown for a semifinal slot. This year, his third-round defeat drops him 62 places to No. 134.
- Ernests Gulbis: Just as the brash Latvian made his debut in the Top 10 after his French Open semifinal showing, his second-round loss at Wimbledon dropped him to No. 13.
- Andy Murray: The Scotsman was hammered in the quarterfinals in a disappointing loss to Dimitrov. He fell five spots in the rankings to No. 10.
- Juan Martin del Potro: Heartbreaking that last year’s gritty five-set semifinal loss to Djokovic could not be defended. The injured Argentine drops 720 points even though his ranking holds at No. 8.
- Nadal: As noted, getting to the fourth round gives the World No. 1 another 170 points, but he lost a big opportunity to pad his lead. Difficult to see him competing for another title at Wimbledon in future years.
- Nick Kyrgios: The 19-year-old phenom knocked out Nadal to reach the quarterfinals. He moved up 78 slots to No. 66 and will be looking at a summer of collecting more points.
- Dimitrov: Already climbing into the Top 10 for the first time at No. 9, he could potentially take Del Potro’s No. 8 position with a semifinal win. If he wins Wimbledon, he will be the No. 5 player in the world. This would be a kind of a flip-flop with Murray.
- Federer: Winning one or two more matches will get the Swiss Maestro to No. 3 for the first time in over one year. Federer could probably care less about that when 302 career weeks at No. 1 seems like his most unbreakable record. All he wants now is his eighth Wimbledon title, major No. 18 and possibly another cow in Gstaad.
- Milos Raonic: Already locked in at No. 6, the Canadian can get the No. 5 ranking with one more win. If he loses to Dimitrov in the final, he would go back to No. 6. Winning Wimbledon guarantees him the No. 5 ranking.
- Marin Cilic: A year ago, he was serving a doping ban. Now Cilic moves up nine positions to hit No. 20. The talented Croatian can keep adding points this summer.
Collectively, the ATP tour is still being ruled by older lions Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. They will keep contending and fighting for majors as long as their health, energy and resolve will allow them. Right now, Murray is the one who must recalibrate his championship potential.
The second-tier players have been stagnant. Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may have seen their best opportunities evaporate. Will Stanislas Wawrinka have another drive for a major title?
The biggest winner has been the youth movement with its best inroads into relevant contention since young Del Potro won the U.S. Open in 2009. Kyrgios, Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Dimitrov can now be in serious discussions for majors and Masters 1000 titles.
Stay tuned for the three biggest matches of Wimbledon and for our Top 20 rankings special following the final.