Men's Tennis Power Rankings: Rafael Nadal Is the Undisputed King
The Championships at Wimbledon have come and gone, just like that. It has been a historic tournament, especially with the Queen's visit (on June 24) and the longest match in tennis history (John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut, first-round, June 22-24).
In the end, though, it was all about Rafael Nadal, who claimed his second Wimbledon crown and his eighth major title. In doing so, he became the first man since Bjorn Borg to achieve the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double more than once.
Before the tour shifts to the second hard-court season of the year, most top players will take a summer vacation. The list below reflects the players' form to some degree, although how well they will be able to keep it up after a multi-week break remains to be seen.
The Top 10
1. Rafael Nadal (Last Power Ranking: 1; ATP Ranking: 1)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Winner], London [Quarterfinalist], Roland Garros [Winner], and Madrid [Winner]
Power Ranking Points: 2,536
Nadal has dominated the men's tour since April, when the clay-court season began in Monte-Carlo. He won all but one (London) tournament that he entered, including two majors and three Masters. He accumulated 7,045 ranking points in three months—more than the total of second ranked player, Novak Djokovic. On the way, he surpassed Roger Federer as the new world's No. 1 and Andre Agassi with the most number of Masters shields.
With his second Wimbledon title, Nadal has won eight major titles, tying him with Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, and Jimmy Connors. Only three men in the Open Era have more major titles than Nadal—Bjorn Borg (11), Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (16 and counting).
Surely the "Career Slam" should be on top of Nadal's to-do list for the rest of the season, especially since he has almost for sure locked up the year-end No. 1 spot. He has yet to advance to the final in the US Open, but with what he has shown in the past few months, few would bet against him to break that trend.
2. Tomas Berdych (Last Power Ranking: 5; ATP Ranking: 8)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Finalist], Roland Garros [Semifinalist], Munich [Quarterfinalist], and Rome [R32]
Power Ranking Points: 1,354
Tomas Berdych's performance in the last two majors were outstanding, second only to Nadal. As a result, he is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 8 right now, though he first broke into the top 10 as early as 2006.
It was quite surprising that no one talked about Berdych after the draw was released, even though the man had just advanced to the final four in Paris. Berdych landed in Federer's quarter, and that turned out to be a nightmare for the Swiss. But, to beat Federer and Nadal in one grand slam has always been a tall order, one only the lanky Juan Martin Del Potro managed that in last year's US Open.
Besides Federer and Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray have not shown much credibility to their "Big Four" status. Look for the talented Czech to make a further push towards the top of the men's rankings.
3. Novak Djokovic (Last Power Ranking: OLI; ATP Ranking: 2)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Semifinalist], London [R16], Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist], and Belgrade [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 802
A semifinal showing at Wimbledon is not too bad for Djokovic, especially considering that he never advanced beyond that stage in his career. But, his performance against Berdych was not good, to say the least. The most alarming thing was his lack of fighting spirit. Without that, the Serb might end up being yet another one-slam wonder.
Earlier this season, Djokovic was apparently struggling with an erratic serve, lacking consistency and accuracy. He seemed to have got his serves under control during the championships, but good serves alone will not win you majors, ask Andy Roddick.
Djokovic is a gifted, all-court player, and has one major title under his belt, yet he seems to lack the conviction that he is made to be a multi-slam winner. There has been way too many times where he simply folded when things weren't going his way.
Djokovic usually excels on hard-courts. He should perform relatively well in North America, but for him to win his second major in New York, he needs to put his heart and soul into it and fight like a dog.
4. Andy Murray (Last Power Ranking: OLI; ATP Ranking: 4)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Semifinalist], London [R16], Roland Garros [R16], and Madrid [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 784
One more slam passed, and one more opportunity slipped away from Andy Murray to capture that elusive first major title. You can't say that he didn't put up a fight, though. He was simply overplayed by Nadal in the semifinal. But, at least he matched his performance last year at SW19, so one (especially a British one) can always hope for a better result next year.
Since his defeat to Federer in the final at the Australian Open, Murray went into a relative slump, seeming to suffer from lack of confidence. He gradually regained his form towards the end of the clay-court season and played really great tennis before his clash with Nadal at Wimbledon. Unfortunately for Murray and the rest of the tour, Nadal is playing at a different level at the moment, a level only Federer once achieved.
Murray has always claimed that he likes the hard-courts the best and believes he will win his first major at the US Open. He'd better be right on this one, as time is about to run out for the Scot.
5. Robin Soderling (Last Power Ranking: 2; ATP Ranking: 5)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Roland Garros [Finalist], Nice [R32], and Madrid [R64]
Power Ranking Points: 601
Robin Soderling seems to always have the good fortune to run into either Federer or Nadal at grand slams. On some occasions, he seized the opportunities to make (or rather break) history, as in the French Open last year against Nadal and this year against Federer.
But on most occasions, he became a stepping stone for the two legends' ascend to glory. Wimbledon 2010 turned out to be one of those occasions, when he fell to Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Ever since his run to the final at the French Open last year, Soderling has become a very dangerous player at every major event. He has been playing with a lot of confidence, even though confidence itself was not enough to win him a major title.
He, Berdych and Del Potro are among those big "flat-hitters" on the tour, whose game is built on power and accuracy than patience and percentage. For them to win a major title, they must be on fire in the final, as Del Potro did in last year's US Open.
BTW, the Swede is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 5 this week.
6. Roger Federer (Last Power Ranking: 3; ATP Ranking: 3)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Halle [Finalist], Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist], and Madrid [Finalist]
Power Ranking Points: 545
For the first time in more than six years, Federer is not ranked in the world's top two. Maybe one can take this as the true indicator of the end of the "Federer Era."
Federer must not like Berdych much. Even though Federer won most of their matches, those lost ones were quite painful to swallow. Like the one at the Athens Olympics in 2004, not to mention he lost to Berdych in Miami this year, even after holding match points.
Every match Federer lost between Melbourne and Roland Garros contributed to his loss of No. 1 ranking at the end of the French Open, thus failing to equal Sampras' record. His loss to Berdych in the Wimbledon quarterfinals denied him his only chance of equaling another Sampras record—seven titles in eight years at Wimbledon.
Federer cited some minor back and leg issues after the Berdych match. While these physical ailments should go away fairly quickly, one has to doubt Federer's mental state at the moment after two disappointing major campaigns. But, if 2008 was any indication, Federer will not go down without a fight. Look for the Swiss Maestro to bounce back strongly in the second hard-court season.
7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Last Power Ranking: NR; ATP Ranking: 11)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Roland Garros [R16], Madrid [R64], and Rome [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 415
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to Murray in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. It was actually his best performance at the All England Club in his career.
Tsonga made his breakthrough on the grand slam stage at the 2008 Australian Open, when he made to the final after beating Nadal in the semifinals. However, he has yet to duplicate that effort after almost two years.
Will he turn out to be another Fernando Gonzalez?
The Frenchman is very athletic, has a powerful serve, and can play very well both from the baseline and at the net. In other words, he has all the required weapon to do well in majors.
The question is, does he have the heart of a champion?
Tsonga prefers hard-courts as his results show. A deep run in New York is entirely possible, though a title or even a final berth might be too much to ask.
8. Jurgen Melzer (Last Power Ranking: 4; ATP Ranking: 15)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [R16], Halle [R16], Roland Garros [Semifinalist], and Madrid [Quarterfinalist]
Power Ranking Points: 352
Jurgen Melzer surprised everyone by advancing to the semifinals at Roland Garros, coming from two sets down to beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals. He was dismissed by Nadal at the French Open, and at Wimbledon he fell to Federer in the round of 16, both in straight sets.
Considering that Melzer had never advanced beyond the round of 32 at any grand slam before Roland Garros this year, his performance in the last two majors were quite amazing, especially for a veteran. As a result, he is currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 15.
Another surprise came in the doubles as Melzer teamed with Philipp Petzschner and won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon, his first major title of any kind.
Will it all go downhill from now on for the 29-year-old Austrian?
9. David Ferrer (Last Power Ranking: 7; ATP Ranking: 12)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [R16], Roland Garros [R32], Madrid [Semifinalist], and Rome [Finalist]
Power Ranking Points: 303
It was a little surprising that David Ferrer played better at Wimbledon than at Roland Garros. He tangled with Soderling for more than three hours before losing 7-5 in the fifth set.
Ferrer played some brilliant tennis during the clay-court season before burning out at the French Open. It will be hard for the Spaniard to rediscover his top form in 2007, when he was ranked as high as No. 4, and advanced to the final at the year-end championship. But, with his fighting spirit, no one should take him lightly in any coming events.
10. Andy Roddick (Last Power Ranking: 8; ATP Ranking: 9)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [R16], London [R16], Roland Garros [R32], and Miami [Winner]
Power Ranking Points: 274
Grass to Roddick is like water to fish, right? Though Andy Roddick surprisingly lost to Dudi Sela in the third round at London, many expected him to make another deep run at Wimbledon. With his heart-breaking loss to Federer in last year's final, it felt as though he deserves another chance by default.
But, Yen-Hsun Lu from Chinese Taipei had other ideas. Ironically, Roddick again only lost his service game once, in the final game of the fifth set.
Will this mark the end of Roddick? He can probably make the strongest case of being the best one-slam wonder of all time.
Roddick did have his moment of glory though. He served as the pizza-boy for Isner when the latter was fighting for his life against Mahut. As Isner revealed later, it was the Roddick pizza that made the difference in the end.
Outside Looking In
Lleyton Hewitt (Last Power Ranking: OLI; ATP Ranking: 31)
Power Ranking Points: 265
With his final triumph over Federer at Halle, Hewitt must entered the Championships full of confidence. But, Djokovic proved to be too strong for the Australian to handle.
Always known for his fighting spirit, Hewitt is a well-respected champion, a two-time slam winner, but at the advanced age of 29, the best days of his career might be over, especially after two hip surgeries.
Sam Querrey (Last Power Ranking: 9; ATP Ranking: 19)
Power Ranking Points: 246
Sam Querrey was the surprise winner at the Queen's Club, considering that the draw featured Nadal, Djokovic, Roddick and Murray. But a warm-up title did not bring Querrey any luck, as he fell to Murray in the round of 16 at the All England Club. Though a solid player, Querrey is yet to show that he belongs to the elite group.
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