We have moved on to the final part of the season for the calendar year.
Most of the tournaments are now played within closed roofs and on hard court surfaces. Indoor courts provide the most perfect, unbiased weather conditions for players to deliver the goods. There's no sun, wind or varying temperature. For the whole duration of the match, they aren't going to be affected by the elements of nature.
Mastering the indoor hard court requires an attacking style of tennis, with the ability to take the ball on the rise and hit it as flat as possible, since the surfaces are generally faster, and the ball moves quicker through the air. As a result, there is less time to make adjustments and movement becomes difficult.
However, there are a lot of players who've demonstrated amazing skills and technique to win matches within a closed roof, most of them exceptional hard court players.
Let's take a look at some of the currently active players who've done extremely well on this surface.
All the statistics and rankings are based upon data from the ATP website.
Win-Loss Ratio: 149-83
It seems unfair to place Ljubicic at 12, considering the fact that he's won six titles on this surface. He has also reached innumerable finals and has played his best tennis indoors. He's one of the most consistent performers and has been reaching the final stages for the past six years. He was a finalist at Metz this year, losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but given his performance there, he could very well have a shot at winning one of the upcoming tournaments this Fall.
Win-Loss Ratio: 49-27
Now where else would you find Nadal's name at 11 on a list of best players. On indoors though, that's how it seems to look from the ATP's point on view. He's won just one title back in 2005, at the ATP Masters in Madrid. Although it's been a long time, he's re-invented himself on the indoor surface, and last year he showed his improvement by reaching the last stage of the World Tour Finals. This year he could beat that if he can up his 2010 performance a notch and try to win the big tournaments at Shanghai, Paris and the year-end championships at London.
Win-Loss Ratio: 48-25
Baghdatis hasn't had a very good year so far and considering the fact that his game is well suited to the hard indoors, he would like to finish off the year in style. He's played well in the past, winning two titles and having been a part of several finals. He should give himself a shot at one of the upcoming indoor events to give his best and hopefully win a title.
Win-Loss Ratio: 58-28
Another hard-hitting but an acrobatic player, Gael brings his best on the fastest surfaces. He's won two titles, in back-to-back years. He would be looking to add at least another to his name this year as well, to prove his consistency indoors and possibly give himself a chance to finish in the top 10 the year.
Win-Loss Ratio: 53-21
Most of Tsonga's victories have come on the indoor surface. He's done extremely well, winning the Paris Masters in 2008. He most recently won at Metz a couple days ago and will truly be a force this fall season. His hard-hitting aggressive game allows him to dominate matches at times, especially when he's at his best. Given that he's gotten better this year, he would look to improve further and possibly win more titles.
Win-Loss Ratio: 71-28
Hewitt may not win another title on indoors, but he's already proven his greatness here by winning four titles including the Tennis Masters Cup during his prime. Considering the fact that he's still active and playing well enough to provide a tough challenge to the top players, one can never count him out. It's been six years since he won a title indoors, but there's always a possibility to win one in the near future, as long as his health keeps up.
Win-Loss Ratio: 85-33
Nalbandian has had some wonderful indoor seasons all through his career where he's added big titles to his name. Hard indoor surfaces are probably his best surface to play on also. He won the Tennis Masters Cup in 2005, but his most memorable season was when he achieved the amazing Masters double at Paris and Madrid, surprisingly giving him an opportunity to enter the eight man field at the year-end championship in Shanghai. I think his ability to take the ball on the rise with flat shot making has made him extremely dangerous on this surface. It's been a few years now though since he's won a title, and his chances of winning another seems to get tougher by the day.
Win-Loss Ratio: 78-30
Djokovic has had a tremendous season already, so the question is, could he add more to his name? He's already won five indoor titles previously, and has captured the all-important Tennis Masters Cup in 2008 at Shanghai along with a Masters title in Paris in 2009. His all-round game allows him to play extremely well on this surface, as proven by his titles. He can certainly win more big titles on this surface, and the confidence that he's gained through the year will encourage him to capture some through the end of the season, as well as in future.
Win-Loss Ratio: 131-47
The reason Roddick's here is because of the six of seven titles he's won at his home tournaments at Memphis and San Jose. They might not be worthy of big time ATP points, but they still count. I presume the reason he's been able to do extremely well is due to the impact his serve has had on the fast surface, getting him more free points, thereby enabling him to win matches with a little ease. He most recently won the Memphis title this year as well. But considering that he's done poorly during the fall seasons on the indoors previously, the probability of him winning a title now on through to the end of the year seems slim.
Win-Loss Ratio: 114-40
Soderling's best surface by miles is the indoor hard court/carpet. He consistently wins titles by bringing his naturally attacking, hard-hitting game to the forefront. He's won multiple ATP-250 titles and has also captured a Masters title at Paris last year. He's won a title on this surface every year since 2008 and it would be foolish to count him out from winning one this year as well. Illness has seem to slow him a bit these past couple months, but once he's fit, he would be raring to go.
Win-Loss Ratio: 83-23
I did find Murray's position as the second best currently active indoor player a little surprising. But what I did notice is that he's fetched eight career titles already, and that's no mean feat on this surface. He's won most of these titles a couple years back, when he was still a young and upcoming player. He's won a lot of the ATP-250 events and also accumulated a Masters title at Madrid in 2008. His game suits the hard court surfaces the most and that allows him to bring his A-game into the indoor environment as well. He's not won any since 2009 so, he'll be looking forward to build on his tally this fall.
Win-Loss Ratio: 198-51
Federer has had the most impressive record of all on the indoor surfaces, racking up 16 titles to date. His aggressive, attacking game with the ability to shorten points and rip winners flat from either side has enabled him to beat tough opposition consistently. He had one of his beat indoor seasons last year winning the World Tour Finals and tournaments at Basel and Stockholm. His best performance came in 2006, when he won three titles as well, but managing to win the Masters Cup, the Madrid Masters and Basel.
Although this list seems slightly off the mark for me, it does show a few surprising entrants. I am not sure as to how exactly the ratings are calculated, but I presume they're based on more than just wins, losses and titles.
A few notable additions to this list might include Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny, both excellent on the indoors.