What a season it has been! Though Roger Federer did not win the year-end championship, few could argue that 2009 was the "Year of Roger Federer." And with the drama involving Rafael Nadal and the rising of Juan Martin del Potro, the tennis landscape has changed forever.
Now get back to our power rankings, we would like to congratulate Nikolay Davydenko, the newly crowned ATP World Tour Finals champion!
The Top 10
1. Nikolay Davydenko (Last Power Ranking: 7; ATP Ranking: 6)
Last Four Tournaments: London [Winner], Paris [R16], Valencia [Semifinalist], Moscow [R32]
Power Ranking Points: 1405
Hard work finally paid off! Yes, Davydenko is No. 1 in the last installment of the power rankings of 2009.
With the depth of today's men's field and with all the talented young guns out there (plus a certain Roger), to see a veteran in Davydenko at No.1 is quite shocking to say the least. But the Russian fully deserves this lofty position.
In London, he beat each of the Grand Slam winner this year. His win over Federer was most impressive, as he was never close to topple the mighty Swiss in their 12 previous encounters.
Still, few would consider him as a legitimate Grand Slam contender in 2010, with the "Fab Five" on top of him. But he certainly seems to have found some new confidence in his game. And with his usual consistency, look for him to be a dangerous player in Masters 1000 tournaments in the new season.
2. Novak Djokovic (Last Power Ranking: 1; ATP Ranking: 3)
Last Four Tournaments: London [RR (2-1)], Paris [Winner], Basel [Winner], Shanghai [Finalist]
Power Ranking Points: 1127
The Serb simply burned out in London. With ATP-leading 97 matches under his belt, you can not blame him to be tired at the end of the season.
So his wins in Paris and Basel should be a more telling sign to his game. Djokovic did not enjoy the first half of the season, especially with his defeats in Masters 1000 tournaments at the hands of Nadal, Murray, and Federer. But he seemed to be a renewed man once the second hard-court season got underway.
He looked more mature and confident on the court, and he seemed fitter than earlier this year. It must have felt sweet to beat Federer in his hometown and to win the last Masters 1000 tournament of the year in Paris.
The biggest disappointment for Djokovic was in the Grand Slams. A second Grand Slam should definitely be on his to-do list next year, along with getting to world No. 1.
3. Juan Martin del Potro (Last Power Ranking: 6; ATP Ranking: 5)
Last Four Tournaments: London [Finalist], Paris [Quarterfinalist], Shanghai [R64], Tokyo [R32]
Power Ranking Points: 892
Many expected his US Open hangover to continue in London, but Del Potro finally put together a respectable post-US Open performance by reaching his first WTF final. Though it would have been sweet to win the title, it's at best the icing on the cake comparing to his first Grand Slam triumph in New York.
The rise of Juan Martin del Potro was quite remarkable. At only 21 and with much room to improve on his game, even Federer said that the sky is the limit for the tall Argentine.
Besides further improving his game, Del Potro certainly would want to have more success in Grand Slams next year. And it would also be nice to crack the top three ranking.
4. Andy Murray (Last Power Ranking: 5; ATP Ranking: 4)
Last Four Tournaments: London[RR (2-1)], Paris [R16], Valencia [Winner], US Open [R16]
Power Ranking Points: 628
While Murray has repeated many times that 2009 has been a good season for him, citing his best performances in all Grand Slams except US Open plus his success in Masters 1000 tournaments, few Murray fans are as optimistic, especially those in Great Britain. "A Grand Slam please, Andy!"
His failure in London definitely did not help the matter. As a pre-tournament favorite, again, he did not make out of his group, even though only by the margin of one game.
The goal for Murray next season is simply: to win a Grand Slam.
5. Roger Federer (Last Power Ranking: 8; ATP Ranking: 1)
Last Four Tournaments: London [Semifinalist], Paris [R64], Basel [Finalist], US Open [Finalist]
Power Ranking Points: 614
While the race to the year-end No.1 for the doubles went down to the wire as Bryans brothers clinched the coveted position in their final match of the season, the race on the single's side was almost over before it started in London.
Federer finished as the ATP World Tour champion for the fifth year, one shy of the current record of six held by Sampras. After failing to win his fifth WTF title, he is also one shy of the record held by Sampras in that category.
Over all, 2009 has been a stellar season for Federer, even by Federer standard. He became the all-time leader in Grand Slam titles, completed the career Grand Slam, and also became the first person in Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a year three times.
On top of that, he got married to a lovely wife and became father to adorable twin girls. Yeah, you have read the above many times, still one can not help but wonder how one would feel if he were Federer.
As the "History Man," the to-do list for Federer in 2010 is a bit longer than the others:
1) To win at least one more Grand Slam
2) To extend the current streak of 22 consecutive Grand Slam semis or better
3) To break the all-time record of 286 weeks at No.1 held by Sampras
4) To finish the year at No. 1, thus tying the record held by Sampras
5) To win the year-end championship, thus tying the record held by Sampras
6) To win at least two Masters 1000 titles, thus passing the record held by Agassi
6. Robin Soderling (Last Power Ranking: 10; ATP Ranking: 8)
Last Four Tournaments: London [Semifinalist], Paris [Quarterfinalist], Stockholm [Semifinalist], Shanghai [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 400
Soderling qualified for the WTF for the first time in his career and he took the opportunity to showcase some of his best tennis. Though he failed to duplicate the feat of Nalbandian in 2005, his semifinal showing in London was quite impressive. It at least showed that his final run in Roland Garros was no fluke.
The hard-hitting Swede will definitely be dangerous in 2010. But can he reach another Grand Slam final?
7. Gael Monfils (Last Power Ranking: 2; ATP Ranking: 13)
Last Four Tournaments: Paris [Finalist], Valencia [R16], Vienna [Quarterfinalist], Shanghai [R16]
Power Ranking Points: 341
Monfils cracked the ATP top 10 for the first time in his career this year. Though he was not able to finish in top 10, his final showing in Paris should definitely give him confidence for next season.
To win more titles and try to reach a Grand Slam final should be reasonable goals for the Frenchman in 2010.
8. Rafael Nadal (Last Power Ranking: 3; ATP Ranking: 2)
Last Four Tournaments: London [RR (0-3)], Paris [Semifinalist], Shanghai [Finalist], Beijing [Semifinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 306
To say that Nadal failed in London is an understatement. As a renowned fighter, it is indeed shocking to see Nadal lose three matches in a row, all in straight sets. Yes, he might not be 100 percent fit yet, recovering from his knee and abdomen injuries. But still, it is not like he never dealt with injuries before. In fact, he is known for fighting with injuries. So what happened? I guess only Nadal knows.
He can still finish the year in style, by helping Spain winning the Davis Cup this week.
We all know what Nadal is capable of once he is on top of his game. So besides staying healthy, another Grand Slam should not be too big a goal for Nadal. As for ATP No. 1, um, maybe not.
9. Radek Stapanek (Last Power Ranking: 4; ATP Ranking: 12)
Last Four Tournaments: Paris [Semifinalist], Basel [Semifinalist], Vienna [Quarterfinalist], Shanghai [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 281
As the oldest player in ATP top 20, Stapanek started 2009 in style by winning Brisbane and San Jose. He also enjoyed a solid finish to the season, reaching at least the final eight in his last four tournaments. He will for sure be motivated to work hard in the off season.
But before that, he will represent Czech Republic in this week's Davis Cup final. His current good form should be a warning sign to whoever he plays against.
It will be hard for the Czech to make any big breakthrough next season, though a title or two should be within reach.
10. Fernando Verdasco (Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 9)
Last Four Tournaments: London [RR (0-3)], Paris [R16], Valencia [Semifinalist], Shanghai [R64]
Power Ranking Points: 107
Verdasco could definitely leave London with his head held high. Even though he did not win one match. his three three-setters against the other three players virtually decided who will advance.
Verdasco began the season with a bang, by reaching his first Grand Slam semis in Australian Open and nearly breaking Nadal. That set the tone for the rest of the season, as he stayed in ATP Top 10 for most of the year. Along the way, he picked up his first hard-court title in New Haven.
Fully confident, it is not impossible for him to reach his first Grand Slam final in 2010.
It has been a real pleasure collaborating with J.A. Allen, Rob York, Rohini Iyer, Rajat Jain and Clarabella Bevis on the Power Rankings this year. Look forward to another season of working with all of you!