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Men’s Tennis Power Rankings: Nadal Ready to Recapture No. 1 6

Posted on June 22, 2012 by JA Allen

Nadal focuses on winning during every match.

The tennis power rankings as created by Feng Rong were developed to objectively measure a tennis player’s current form. This is accomplished by weighting the outcomes so that the four most recent results count the most.

This ranking assesses the power in the men’s game as players get ready to do battle on the stately grounds of Wimbledon—this after leaving the normally dusty environment of Stade Roland Garros.

In 2012, however, dust was replaced by puddles as the rains fell profusely in Paris during week two of the Grand Slam tournament, postponing the men’s final until Monday.

Wimbledon, with its new retractable Centre Court roof, will be spared a troubled final in 2012 because the roof can be closed and lighting employed.

Who will win this year’s Wimbledon crown? No one knows, of course.

Will it be one of the top ten in our Power Listing? Only time will tell.

We survey the men’s top ten in our power ranking and speculate on their potential for winning the Wimbledon championship as well as looking at some other potential winners.

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Men’s Tennis Power Ranking: Novak Djokovic Stays Hot Heading into New York City 1

Posted on August 24, 2011 by JA Allen

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City

As the 2011 US Open gets underway on Monday, August 29, we suddenly realize that we have arrived at the last major of year.

Many compelling story lines have carried us to this point. Throughout the year, the sports media remained poised on the brink, waiting, as Serb Novak Djokovic first surpassed No. 2 Roger Federer and then No. 1 Rafael Nadal to secure the top spot in men’s tennis.

Starting back in January as players journeyed to Melbourne, the year appeared to stretch ahead forever. The talk then concerned Rafael Nadal winning the 2011 Australian Open. The victory would have made Nadal the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to own all four slam titles at one time.

Dreams of the “Rafa Slam” ended in Australia when Nadal endured a left thigh injury. Nadal lost his quarterfinal match to compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3––in pain, yet, all the while refusing to retire.

Aspirations of Roger Federer winning his fifth Australian Open Championship also died when the Swiss lost to Novak Djokovic during the Australian Open semifinals––in straight sets. Djokovic went on to demolish Andy Murray in the 2011 finals, also in straight sets.

Since scaling his way into the men’s top ten in 2007, the Serb finally managed to make it all the way to the top in 2011. He took Federer’s No. 2 ranking at Indian Wells, defeating the Swiss in the semifinals. Djokovic took Nadal’s No. 1 ranking at Wimbledon as well as the championship trophy.

The new world No. 1 lost twice in 2011. He was defeated in his semifinal bid at Roland Garros to Roger Federer. Djokovic also lost to Andy Murray on Sunday August 21 in Cincinnati.  Otherwise, the Serb remains perfect in 2011, as he prepares for the upcoming US Open.

Djokovic continues to dominate the power rankings heading into the last major of the season.

Following are the top ten men, with rankings based on their last four tennis tournament appearances.

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Rafael Nadal Tops the Men’s Tennis Power Rankings 9

Posted on June 08, 2011 by JA Allen

Rafael Nada wins French Open championship number six.

The 2011 French Open is history, one for the books. It proved to be an exciting two weeks of action with plenty of surprises as the world tuned in to watch players battle it out on the courts of Stade Roland Garros.

It is rare that the ATP top-ranked players are also the top four in our power rankings. Understandably, that does not happen often. But this was a year for the unusual. A case in point––in 2011 the men’s top four seeds reached the French Open semifinals.

It was the first time since since the 2006 French Open that the top four men’s seeds reached the semifinals at any Grand Slam tournament. At that tournament those final four were Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal,  David Nalbandian and Ivan Ljubicic.

The men’s tour has already moved onto grass with the crisp white tradition of historical Wimbledon––the most prestigious of all the grand slam tournaments. While French crowds booed and hissed at players, the exact opposite will unfold under the pristine umbrella of proper British behavior.

So as we shake the red dust off our tennies and cross the channel to London, a new brand of tennis awaits. The question is––who will win the next grand slam tournament held at the All-England Club.

Grass changes the complexity of the game. The slow grind of clay speeds up on the grass courts and low bounces at your ankles becomes the norm.

Change is good and Wimbledon promises another great tournament.

The men’s current power rankings are based on a player’s results in his last four tournaments. In this entry, ranking points come primarily from the ATP points awarded at the French Open.

For the list on the women’s side, please check out the complementary article authored by Feng Rong (Ronger Fengerer). This season-long series contains contributions from JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Feng Rong.

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Novak Djokovic Triumphs on Clay to Capture The Top Spot in the Men’s Power Ranking 4

Posted on May 27, 2011 by Ronger Fengerer

Serb Novak Djokovic

Ever since early April, the clay war has been raging on in the world of tennis.

From Casablanca to Belgrade, from Monte-Carlo to Rome, tennis warriors have been fighting it out on the red dirt for glory and pride.

As for the past few years, it was predicted that the “king of clay,” Rafael Nadal, would once again rule the kingdom of clay.

Only this year, no one saw it coming. A “perfect storm”—named Novak Djokovic.

Besides the French Open—the ultimate prize of the clay season—there are four other significant tournaments in the calendar: the three Masters events in Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome, and the only 500 event in Barcelona. Nadal made it to the final in all four events, winning two titles against David Ferrer—but finishing runner-up to Djokovic in the others.

So this year, Djokovic has beaten Nadal four times, all in the finals of Masters events: two on hard-court and two on clay. Will the trend continue if they both make it to the final at Roland Garros?

And what is in store at Roland Garros for Roger Federer, who is yet to overcome Na-No this year? Will Robin Soderling finally be able to come out on top after finishing second-best in the past two French Open finals? Will the Fedal duopoly finally be broken by the Djoker?

Before we take a look at who is hot and who is not heading to Paris, here are a few players who made our top ten list last time but were dropped this time.

Dropping Out

Mardy Fish (Last Power Ranking: 4; ATP Ranking: 10)

Mardy Fish was in great form at Miami, advancing all the way to the semifinals before losing to the unbeatable Djokovic. Not long after that, he was able to crack the ATP top ten for the first time in his career. Unfortunately for Fish, actually for all American players, the clay season started right after Miami. Not surprisingly, he enjoyed little success on the red dirt. Though without many points to defend, he was able to retain his No. 10 ranking heading to the French capital.

Juan Martin Del Potro (Last Power Ranking: 5; ATP Ranking: 27)

Del Potro had an impressive season so far, especially considering that he was out of action for much of last season. The tall Argentine has already won two titles this year, including one clay title in Estoril. Unfortunately, he suffered a hip injury before his much anticipated clash with Nadal in Madrid and he subsequently pulled out of Rome as well. His performance at Roland Garros will largely depend on his health and fitness.

Gilles Simon (Last Power Ranking: 8; ATP Ranking: 19)

Gilles Simon had some success on hard-courts this season, winning the Sydney title and making to the quarterfinals at Miami. But he has been struggling on clay so far, winning six matches from five tournaments. This could be partly due to the fact that he missed the entire clay swing last season due to injuries. It is hard to see him have much success at the French Open this year.

Our power rankings try to measure the form of top players based on their recent results. This season-long series contains contribution from JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Feng Rong (Ronger Fengerer).

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Novak Djokovic Rules the Men’s Tennis Power Rankings After Dominating in Miami 5

Posted on April 06, 2011 by Marianne Bevis

Novak Djokovic has fulfilled the early promise of greatness so far in 2011.

The first three months of the tennis season pose some of the players’ biggest challenges.

With barely a fortnight to get their hard-court games into fine working order, the first Major of the year is upon them. Yet the Australian Open is just the beginning; ahead lie two months of hard-court rigor, all geared towards a second distant climax at the end of March.

Along the way are choices between indoor and outdoor, cool northern Europe and the hot Gulf states, even between hard courts and the points-rich Golden Swing on the clay of Latin America.

It is a topsy-turvy phase, where two of the most prestigious Masters events in the calendar close a season rather than building towards a concluding Major, and therefore, is often full of intrigue, unpredictable winners and surprising losers.

During the two months between Melbourne and Miami—where this edition of the Power Rankings is focused—there have been 10 different champions from 14 tournaments.

Kevin Anderson won his first tour title in Johannesburg, went on to reach the quarterfinals in the Miami Masters and now sits at an all-time ranking of 33.

Ivan Dodig won his maiden title in Zagreb and there was an even more significant first for the surging Milos Raonic, who started the year at 156 and now sits at 35. He announced his arrival big time by winning San Jose and then reaching the final of Memphis. Although he does not feature in this month’s rankings, he will surely join the party when the next hard-court season comes around.

One multiple winner, Nicolas Almagro, took titles in Brazil and Argentina and reached the final in Acapulco and, while he did not impress in the subsequent Masters, his form may impact on the clay road towards Roland Garros.

For each story of success, though, there has been one of ill fortune. Andy Roddick arrived in Miami on the back of his 30th career title in Memphis and with a 16-3 winning record for the year—and his record in Miami was second to none. But it soon became clear that Roddick was unwell during his opening match, and he made his earliest Miami exit since 2002. Now at No. 14 in the rankings, it is also his lowest position since 2002.

The biggest shock of this entire period, though, was the performance of Andy Murray, who replayed his post-Australian slump of 2010 with a vengeance.

Murray loves the North American Masters and was aiming to improve on last year’s quarterfinal finish in Indian Wells and his first-round exit in Miami. However, he lost in his first match at both as well as at the only other event he played, Rotterdam.

He is said to be reviewing his coaching setup ahead of the clay season and, with few points to defend before Wimbledon, that choice will have some time to bed in. One thing’s for sure: He needs to change something, and soon.

But while there have been surprises at almost every turn of the hard-court road that culminated in Miami, there has also been a clutch of constants. At every tournament they have played, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have stayed the course at least as far as the semifinals.

One of them has been as constant as the North Star—the winner of every match in every tournament he has played since the start of the year and he, of course, tops the latest Power Rankings.

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Men’s Tennis Power Rankings: Novak Djokovic Triumphs Down Under 1

Posted on February 10, 2011 by Marianne Bevis

Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for the second time.

It lasts just a fortnight. But the first Major of the year, the Australian Open, has shown just how much water can flow under the bridge in two short weeks.

With the draws made, the pundits placed their bets, the journos made their predictions and the fans prepared their banners. Everyone had a view on who would take to the court on the final day.

There were column inches on whether home favorite Lleyton Hewitt could make one last assault on the tournament. There was high excitement surrounding the return of former world No. 4, Juan Martin Del Potro. And there was the newly-promoted world No. 4 Robin Soderling to assess: was he really on a par with ‘the top four’?

Possible upsets were, as usual, eagerly sought. Gilles Simon, the proud owner of the most recent ATP title in Sydney, met Roger Federer in round two. It was tough, but the reigning Australian champion forged onward and upwards, and the odds on his retaining the title shortened with each successive win.

Then there was Tomas Berdych rediscovering his Wimbledon form at just the right time. He made it effortlessly into the quarterfinals, as did the long-life-battery-driven David Ferrer and the new-Swiss-on-the-block, Stanislas Wawrinka: dangerous dark horses, all of them.

And, as with every Major tournament, a new talent strode into the limelight to thrill the lovers of the underdog. Take a bow, Alexandr Dologopolov.

But few really doubted that the dominant four of men’s tennis would eventually take their allotted semi-final places: Federer and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

And, tough call though it was, the final was almost certainly destined to be Roger-and-Rafa. After all, one or the other had featured in every Major bar one for the last six years and they had won all but two of the last 23.

But 14 days proved to be a mighty long time in the unfolding story of 2011’s first Major and, in the end, the Earth seemed to pause on its axis while it adjusted to the prospect of a final without either top seed in attendance.

Instead it came down to the two men widely regarded as the second pair in the tennis hierarchy.

They have been bracketed together for years, yoked by their ages (they were born in the same week), the weight of expectation, their struggles to keep emotions in check and with sparkling talent at their disposal.

And they are, in the first Power Rankings of 2011, yoked together in the two top spots. More significantly, there’s a real sense that the duopoly of the last six years is under threat.

The Nos. 1 and 2 in the world may have to get used to some company in their tennis stratosphere.

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      Billy Kilmer

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month began his NFL career as an athletic running quarterback, but he endured a near fatal car accident to completely change his game during a career that spanned nearly two decades.

      Anyone who is familiar with former NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer probably remembers him as the portly, un-athletic, but very tough quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. However, during his first two NFL seasons, Kilmer was primarily used as a running quarterback and running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

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