After the U.S. Open and the Davis Cup in September, tennis has been pretty quiet, which usually happens after the concluding Grand Slam of the season. Therefore, not much substantial change takes place in the Power Rankings this time around, but a couple of new faces emerge while a few old ones faded away.
The Top 10
1. Juan Martin del Potro (652 points)
Last four tournaments: U.S. Open [Winner], Canada Masters [Final], Washington [Winner], Wimbledon [R64]
After stunning the world by defeating the seemingly unconquerable Roger Federer in the finals at the U.S. Open, del Potro returns to play this week as the No. 1 seed in the Rakuten Japan Open. He may be a bit rusty after laying off for a month, but he will be helped by a depleted field in Tokyo, as Roger Federer and Andy Murray both withdrew with injuries.
The world of expectation and scrutiny will fall hard upon the young Argentine after his win in New York. He needs to do well in Tokyo to keep the press from questioning his ability—just ask Novak Djokovic.
ATP Ranking: 5. Last Power Ranking: 1
2. Roger Federer (646 points)
Last four tournaments: U.S.Open [Finalist], Cincinnati Masters [Winner], Canada Masters [Quarterfinalist], Wimbledon [Winner]
Like del Potro, his opponent in the U.S. Open, Federer has not picked up a tennis racket except to help Switzerland stay in the World Group during play in September. He has pulled out of the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo as well as the Masters Series event in Shanghai later this month.
He cites a bad back and other ailments, mainly reiterating his need for rest. Federer won two of the four Slam tournaments this year and will be hoping to strengthen his body for another run in 2010. Federer has already qualified for the year-end Masters tournament to be held in London this year.
Maybe fans will see Federer again in November in Basel or Paris. They certainly hope so.
ATP Ranking: 1. Last Power Ranking: 2
3. Novak Djokovic (333 points)
Last four tournaments: U.S. Open [Semifinalist], Cincinnati Masters [Finalist], Canada Masters [Quarterfinalist], Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist]
Hardcourt play enabled Djokovic to get back on track as he rose through the seedings all the way to the semifinals of the U.S. Open. He seemed to put his game back together again after faltering for most of the year. After a month layoff, the young Serb should extend his superior play on the indoor hardcouts.
He is the No. 2 seed at the China Open, with Rafael Nadal seeded No. 1. The field, however, is loaded with power players. It will be a good test of Djokovic’s resolve and strength.
The Serb still seeks his first Master’s shield of the season and that may occur at the Masters Series in Shanghai. The China Open will serve as a great tuneup for Djokovic.
ATP Ranking: 4. Last Power Ranking: 3
4. Nikolay Davydenko (319 points)
Last four tournaments: Malaysian Open [Winner], U.S. Open [R 16], New Haven [Quarterfinalist], Cincinnati Masters [R 16].
Davydenko earned his victory at the Malaysian Open by defeating some real heavyweights. He faced Taylor Dent, Gael Monfils, Robin Soderling, and Fernando Verdasco, defeating them all on his way to the championship. This win propelled him over the top and into the Power Rankings at the No. 4 spot.
Davydenko has been out of the Power Rankings for some time. This is usually the time of year the Russian excels—as the tour moves indoors. Davydenko will be seeded No. 4 at the China Open.
ATP Ranking: 8. Last Power Ranking: NR
5. Gilles Simon (315 points)
Last four tournaments: Thailand Open [Winner], U.S. Open [R32], Cincinnati Masters [Quarterfinalist], Canada Masters [R 16].
The determined and dapper Frenchman finally won a tournament this year after nabbing the trophy in the Thailand Open, defeating Viktor Troicki in the final. It was a satisfying win after being down so much of the year. Simon retains his top 10 ATP ranking with the win.
The Frenchman, seeded No. 3 in the China Open, is in the same half of the draw as the No. 1 seed Juan Martin del Potro. Simon continues to battle for the opportunity to play in the season ending Masters Tournament in London. He has a long way to go to get there but the victory in Thailand helps.
ATP Ranking: 10. Last Power Ranking: NR
6. Andy Murray (303 points)
Last four tournaments: U.S. Open [R16], Cincinnati Masters [Semifinalist], Canada Masters [Winner], Wimbledon [Semifinalist]
Murray’s wrist is still causing him major problems. Like Federer, Murray has pulled out of the Japan Open in hopes that his wrist injury will subside and he can return to play at full strength. The injury began at the U.S. Open and he aggravated it again during the Davis Cup tie with Poland.
The wrist may recover, but it will probably be day-to-day before the physicians clear Murray to play.
ATP Ranking: 3. Last Power Ranking: 5
7. Fernando Verdasco (292 points)
Last four tournaments: Malaysian Open [Finalist], U.S. Open [Quarterfinalist], New Haven [Winner], Cincinnati Masters [R64]
Like many of the other top players, Verdasco is battling injury. His is an abdominal tear—like that suffered by his countryman, Nadal. These constant injuries are a reminder to tennis organizers that the schedule they have created and imposed does vast damage to players, who often play days and weeks at a time without adequate rest and revitalization.
Verdasco’s return was almost triumphant—he made it all the way to the Malaysian Open Finals but came up short against Davydenko in Kuala Lumpur. Nonetheless, the result is promising. Verdasco will be seeded No. 5 at the upcoming China Open.
ATP Ranking: 9. Last Power Ranking: 6
8. Rafael Nadal (276 points)
Last four tournaments: U.S. Open [Semifinalist], Cincinnati Masters [Semifinalist], Canada Masters [Quarterfinalist], Roland Garros [R16]
Rafael Nadal has been fighting injuries for over a year. His attempts to come back have been impeded by the lingering effects of his abdominal tear. The Spaniard will be returning to action this week at the China Open, where he is seeded No. 1.
His first match back is against wild card entry Marcos Baghdatis—not the best draw for Nadal returning to action.
At this point, we will just wait and see who regains his form first and can claim his rightful place back at the top.
ATP Ranking: 2. Last Power Ranking: 4
9. Gael Monfils (217 points)
Last four tournaments: Malaysian Open [Quarterfinalist], Open De Moselle [Winner] U.S. Open [R16], Cincinnati Masters [R64]
The Frenchman with the most potential and the least discipline has powered his way into the rankings after winning the tournament in Metz, France. Monfils is seeded No. 4 at the Japan Open this week. Should the seedings stand, Monfils would meet fellow countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals.
The question remains—how long can Monfils maintain his high-end style of play?
ATP Ranking: 13. Last Power Ranking: NR
10. Fernando Gonzalez (195 points)
Last four tournaments: Malaysian Open [Semifinalist], U.S. Open [Quarterfinalist], Cincinnati Masters [R64], Canada Masters [R16]
Fernando Gonzalez made it all the way to the semifinals of the Malaysian Open, where he lost to Fernando Verdasco, 6-4, 7-5. He was playing well until the Spaniard ended his run. Gonzo is seeded seventh at the China Open this week—on the same side of the draw with top-seeded Nadal.
Hopefully a good run at the China Open will keep him in the Power Rankings next time.
ATP Ranking: 12. Last Power Ranking: 7
Outside Looking In
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (194 points)
Last four tournaments: Thailand Open [Quarterfinalist], U.S. Open [R16], Cincinnati Masters [R32], Canada Masters [Semifinalist]
Like all the great athletes playing the game today, Tsonga has extraordinary potential but lacks the discipline needed to make it to the top of the game. Until he develops some consistency, he will continue to show flashes of brilliance but be unable to capitalize on his amazing abilities.
He has a Masters title at Paris to defend in November.
Robin Soderling (193 points)
Last four tournaments: Malaysian Open [Semifinalist], U.S. Open [Quarterfinalist], Cincinnati Masters [R64], Washington [Quarterfinalist]
Robin Soderling made it to the semifinals of Malaysian Open and faced Davydenko, who defeated him by a 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 score. At the China Open this week, the Swede will be seeded No. 6 and would face Djokovic if he made it to the semifinals.
Soderling’s fortunes have vastly improved, but he still has not made it into the ATP Top 10. Continued success may find the Swede there if his run on hardcourts continues.
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