Tennis season for 2009 has entered its final stages. This is the time when lesser known players make their presence felt in the absence—either due to injuries, which has been the flavor of this season, or the need for rest—and this season is no different. In a way, it is good that the season is this long. It is not often that we get to see other players taking the limelight.
The Top Ten
1. Nikolay Davydenko (406 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 1, ATP Ranking: 7)
Last Four Tournaments: Moscow [R32], Shanghai Masters [Winner], Beijing [QF], Kuala Lumpur [Winner]
The underrated Russian stunned two of the top three players at the Shanghai Masters, and he continues his position at the top of this week's Power Rankings. His participation in Moscow just a day after humbling Rafael Nadal was strange. He must have been tired after three weeks of continuous tennis, and he would not have gained any points even by winning the tournament, since he had already gained the maximum possible points from the ATP-250 tournaments.
2. Novak Djokovic (390 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 3, ATP Ranking: 3)
Last Four Tournaments: Shanghai Masters [SF], Beijing [Winner], U. S. Open [SF], Cincinnati Masters [Finals]
The man from Serbia has not played in the last few weeks but will soon be seen in action at Roger Federer's hometown in Basel and later at Paris Masters.
He seems to have gained his confidence back after an impressive streak of performances in his last four tournaments. Still on the lookout for the first Masters shield of this year, and Paris will be his last chance.
3. Rafael Nadal (368 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 2, ATP Ranking: 2)
Last Four Tournaments:Shanghai [Finals], Beijing [SF], US Open [SF], Cincinnati [SF]
Experts and fans continue to doubt the Spaniard's chances next year due to his injuries and style of play, but three final-four and a finals appearance just coming back from injury on his least favorite surface is more than enough proof that Rafa is here to stay in the time to come.
A period of inactivity in the last two weeks must have rejuvenated the Spaniard and he must be itching to prove himself at the Paris Masters.
4. Roger Federer (367 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 4, ATP Ranking: 1)
Last Four Tournaments: US Open [Finals], Cincinnati [Winner], Montreal [QF], Wimbledon [Winner]
It is to no one's surprise that we haven't seen much—in fact, none—of the Swiss Maestro in the last few weeks. With his year end No. 1 ranking more or less secured, there is really no need to play extra tournaments and open up the risk of an unwanted injury.
He resumes his season at his hometown in Basel, and for the first time, in the "Roger Federer Arena."
5. Ivan Ljubicic (336 points)
(Last Power Ranking: N/A, ATP Ranking: 25)
Last Four Tournaments: Lyon [Winner], Shanghai Masters [QF], Beijing [QF], Metz [R16]
The former World No. 3 veteran is back among the rankings. After a disappointing season and a first round exit at the Open, the veteran is back among the headlines after winning the tournament at Lyon.
6. Jurgen Melzer (309 points)
(Last Power Ranking: N/A, ATP Ranking: 28)
Last Four Tournaments: Vienna [Winner], Shanghai Masters [R16], Tokyo [R16], Bangkok [SF]
Here is our second surprise entry for the Power Rankings. After his impressive victories over Stepanek and Tipsarvic, he stunned Cilic in the finals of Vienna with a fabulous straight sets victory to win his first title of the year and a place in this week's Power Rankings.
7. Juan Martin del Potro (303 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 5, ATP Ranking: 5)
Last Four Tournaments: Shanghai [R64], Tokyo [R32], US Open [Winner], Montreal [Finals]
The post U.S. Open hangover for the Tandilian continues, which is evident by his first round exits in his last two tournaments, and a last minute withdrawal from Basel. The season has been long for Del Potro, and after his maiden major title, these are minor debacles after an emotional high, and not a cause for concern at present.
8. Marin Cilic (273 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 10, ATP Ranking: 13)
Last Four Tournaments: Vienna [Finals], Shanghai [R64], Beijing [Finals], US Open [QF]
Without a doubt, a break through year for Cilic. His stunning victory over Nadal was his first against a top player, and would boost his confidence in the coming year. His next aim will be to deliver consistent results and gain some titles along the way. Two finals apperances in a few weeks and no titles does look a little disturbing.
9. Mikhail Youzhny (229 points)
(Last Power Ranking: N/A, ATP Ranking: 23)
Last Four Tournaments: St. Petersburg [R16], Moscow [Winner], Tokyo [Finals], Kuala Lumpur [QF]
The surprise entries at the rankings continue as Youzhny captured his first title of the season. His erratic performances continued, though, as the immediate high turned into another low with a second round defeat in another part of the same country.
10. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (218 points)
(Last Power Ranking: 6, ATP Ranking: 9)
Last Four Tournaments: Lyon [QF], Shanghai [R16], Tokyo [Winner], Bangkok [SF]
After his Quarter Finals exit at Lyon, Tsonga's chances of qualifying for the World Tour Finals are as good as over, as he has a title at Paris to defend.
Outside Looking In
Gilles Simon (211 points)
The sight of a World No. 12 losing against a World No. 107 during the fag end of the season is not pretty. Yet, this is the story of the Frenchman so far in this season which has been marred by injuries, inconsistencies and the tour figuring out his style of play. As a result, he is struggling after achieving a personal high in 2008.
Andy Murray (179 points)
Oh, we had almost forgotten the Scot. This is the effect a few weeks of inactivity can lead to. Murray returns to the tour today at Valencia, and we can only hope that his wrist is perfectly fine now and that he is good shape. Rest can only be gauged after his performance at this and the forthcoming tournaments.
The Year End Championship on the women's side ended this Sunday, while it will take another four weeks for the men's season to wrap up…followed by the Davis Cup finals. This is something which really merits attention. Can't the tour be shortened by even two weeks?
On a different note, Federer has announced his schedule for 2010. Quite predictably, he will be skipping Monte Carlo—the only optional Masters Series tournament—and will be participating in a total of 18 tournaments, including his exhibition commitments. Not a packed schedule, with enough time for recuperation in between. However, his participation at Estoril seems a little strange. Still, his priorities are quite clear from this announcement.