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Sports Then and Now

Men’s Tennis Power Rankings: Rafael Nadal Soars Seeking World Tour Crown 2

Posted on September 23, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

Nadal celebrates winning his first U.S. Open and a career grand slam.

It was the day after the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal had slipped, in the space of a fortnight, from No. 2 in the world to No. 4, and was almost 4,000 points off the Federer pace.

But you can’t afford to turn your back for a moment in this fast-changing game of tennis.

Take the last two months. Wimbledon—and the grass season with it—came to an end. The normal hiatus that follows the frenetic action between the clay Masters and London is usually a welcome oasis in the middle of the tennis year. But this year, there has barely been time to draw breath between the clay, the grass, and the hard-court seasons.

First, France celebrated a famous win over champions Spain in the Davis Cup.

No fewer than three top players ditched their coaches: Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Murray, and Stanislas Wawrinka. Another, renowned for ploughing his own furrow, suddenly took on a coach: Roger Federer.

A handful of players had one last fling on clay before the rigors of the North American hard courts took over the tour—and that helped to ensure that the top three places in the Power Rankings would be filled by Spaniards: Rafael Nadal, Nicolas Almagro, and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Many others turned early to their preparations for the U.S. Open Series on the searing courts of Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington.

The big names, though, kept their powder dry until the two Masters that provide the test-bed for the final Major of the year in New York.

They reaped the rewards for that reticence, too. Federer won the Masters in Cincinnati, Andy Murray took the Masters in Toronto, and Nadal shared the honors at the U.S. Open with Novak Djokovic.

So, yes, some things change fast. For every Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislas Wawrinka who has gate-crashed this month’s Power Rankings (PRs), there has been an exit by an early hard-court bloomer such as Tomas Berdych and Sam Querrey.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The second and third in the world, Djokovic and Federer, who were outside these rankings in August, are back again, ranked—you guessed it, second and third.

And that man who trailed by 4,000 points back in February? He’s now the one with clear water between him and the rest: on top of world. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

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Top 10 Power Rankings: Roger Federer Leap Frogs the Field at the U.S. Open 4

Posted on August 25, 2010 by JA Allen

As we get ready to head into the 2010 U.S. Open at the end of a long stretch of hard court tournaments in America, there are some traditional clear cut favorites who will claim the attention of the media and tennis fans.

Unfortunately, last year’s winner, Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, will not be able to defend his 2009 U.S. Open Championship after undergoing wrist surgery in May at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. He has just recently returned to the practice courts.  This means he will not be up to match strength, denying him the ability to compete at such a high level over an extended period.

The usual suspects head the list of favorites starting with Rafael Nadal, the No. 1 seed, as well as No. 2 seed Roger Federer who has won this tournament five times in the past six years.  Additionally, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have made the finals in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Most of the odds makers will focus on this quartet of top-ranked tennis elites.

It is also important, however,  to consider our Power Rankings, which highlight those players who have recently excelled on the hard courts leading up to the U.S. Open. These are the top ten contenders going into Flushing Meadows.

The Top 10

1. Roger Federer (Last Power Ranking: OLI; ATP Ranking: 2)

Last Four Tournaments: Cincinnati [Winner], Toronto [Finalist], Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Halle Germany [Finalist]

Power Ranking Points: 1359

Roger Federer won the tournament in Cincinnati just prior to the U.S. OpenPower Ranking Points: 1359

After suffering a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon, Federer took some time off from the tour. As he resumed a rigorous practice schedule, Federer announced to the world that he would meet and work with Paul Annacone, former coach to Pete Sampras.

Their first tournament together was Toronto where Federer progressed to the final but was not able to overcome Andy Murray, losing 5-7, 5-7.  The Swiss came back, however, in Cincinnati to repeat as champion over Mardy Fish in a hard-fought three-set final.
Federer seems well rested and well-prepared to compete in his eleventh U.S. Open.

The state of his coaching trial with Annacone remains up in the air at this point with no real explanation as to why Annacone did not travel with him to Cincinnati.  Regardless, his recent play must revive Federer’s confidence heading into New York.

U.S. Open Success? Half of the time that Federer has gained entry into the U.S. Open, he has won the title.  He will remain one of the favorites going into the tournament to win it again in 2010.  That is not to say he will be without competition. Everybody enters to win. If Federer, however, plays as he did this past week, his chances look very good, indeed.

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U.S. Open Tennis: Greatest Lady Champions of the Modern Era 3

Posted on August 17, 2010 by JA Allen

Great Rivalries built the women's game into a prime spectator sport.

Heading into the 2010 U.S. Open, uncertainty reigns as several of the top seeds are currently sidelined with injuries.

First of all are the reports of Serena Williams’ recovery from foot surgery––leading to speculation that the younger Williams sister may not be fit enough to challenge for the U.S. Open championship.

Additionally will be the absence of Justine Henin with a right elbow injury suffered during a fall at Wimbledon. The pain and suffering could extend perhaps to Venus Williams who has pulled out of both Cincinnati and Montreal with pain in her left knee that prevents her from practicing.

Add to that wounded Russian Maria Sharapova who battled Kim Clijsters in the final in Cincinnati pulling out of the Rogers Cup after twisting her ankle during the match.

The end result is that a clear favorite for being crowned as this year’s champion remains shrouded in doubt––even though the odds seem to favor the younger Williams sister.  Will she notch another win in New York?

As we rate the top U.S. Open champions since 1968 on the women’s side, we look at both the number of final wins plus the number of appearances in U.S. Open finals.  If those are equal we look at the total winning percentages of each player.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Dale Murphy: A Hallmark of Excellence
      July 2, 2024 | 1:53 pm
      Dale Murphy

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a standout player of the 1980s, remembered not only for his exceptional skills on the field but also for his exemplary character and sportsmanship.

      Born on March 12, 1956, in Portland, Oregon, Dale Murphy’s journey to becoming one of the most respected players in baseball history is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and a genuine love for the game.

      Early Career and Rise to Prominence

      Murphy was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1974 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on September 13, 1976, at the age of 20. Initially a catcher, Murphy transitioned to the outfield early in his career, where he would solidify his place as one of the premier outfielders of his era.

      Read more »

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