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Rafael Nadal returns to No. 3, Milos Raonic first Canadian in the top 10

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Rafael Nadal beat Milos Raonic in straight sets for the Rogers Cup title. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal beat Milos Raonic in straight sets for the Rogers Cup title. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal’s remarkable 2013 season continues. Thanks to his triumphant run at the Rogers Cup in Montreal last week, Nadal returns to the No. 3 ranking for the first time in nearly a year this week.

It’s an impressive rise considering he missed seven months after shutting down his season after Wimbledon last year. Since his return to the ATP Tour in February, Nadal has played 11 tournaments, made the final at ten of them, and won an ATP-leading eight titles (Djokovic and Murray are tied at No. 2 on that list with three titles each). Those titles include his eighth French Open title and four ATP Masters 1000s (Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, and Montreal).

With no points to defend for the rest of the year, Nadal is in prime position to chase down Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking. He leads Djokovic by 1,420 points in the Race to London rankings, which tallies the number of points a player earns during the current season.

The ATP top 10 also welcomes a new member into the fold. 22-year-old Milos Raonic becomes the youngest member of the Top 10 after making his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Montreal. Raonic, ranked right at No. 10, is the first Canadian man to ever break into the top 10. “For me, it’s a very special day to at least get to a goal I set for myself earlier this year, which looked a little bit difficult after how I played recently,” Raonic said after clinching his Top 10 ranking last week. “But to do it here in Montréal, it’s a relief and it’s a happy feeling.”


  • Published On Aug 12, 2013
  • How Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka can take No. 1

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    Serena Williams

    Serena Williams faces Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Icon SMI)

    The No. 1 ranking on both tours is up for grabs at the Australian Open. Roger Federer has a slim chance to dethrone Novak Djokovic, while Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are gunning for current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

    For the men, Djokovic can retain No. 1 by beating Tomas Berdych in Monday’s quarterfinals. If he fails to do so, Federer can retake the top spot by winning the title. Sorry, Andy Murray. You’re not part of this conversation yet.

    The scenarios are a bit more complicated for the women, though by virtue of her fourth-round exit here last year, Williams is in the best position. She can take the top spot for the first time since 2010, a span that’s seen her come back from toe surgery and the resultant complications in 2011.

    Here are the cleanest scenarios for the women’s No. 1:

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 21, 2013
  • Juan Martin del Potro qualifies for ATP World Tour Finals

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    With Rafael Nadal’s official withdrawal from the ATP World Tour Finals in London, Juan Martin del Potro became the sixth qualifier into the year-end tournament after beating Brian Baker in the third round of the Swiss Indoors in Basel on Thursday. Currently ranked No. 8 in the 52-week rankings, it will be Del Potro’s third World Tour Finals and the first since his banner year in 2009, when he reached the final but lost to Nikolay Davydenko.

    The soft-spoken Argentine, who won a tournament in Vienna last week, was excited to qualify for the eight-man field but took time to lament Rafa’s absence.

    “I’m sad for Rafa, he’s really trying in his comeback. But it’s not easy after such a long time away. I had the same feeling with my wrist. We miss Rafa a lot on the Tour. He is one of the best players in history, he will come back strong. I’m sure it will be very soon.

    “He will be ready to win a big event again, I know that he can play better than me when he makes his comeback, I wish all the best to him.”

    There are two singles spots still up for grabs, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic leading the race.


  • Published On Oct 25, 2012
  • Maria Sharapova: No. 1 not a priority

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    Maria Sharapova WTA Championships

    Maria Sharapova is looking for her second title at the WTA Championships, but hasn’t won since 2004. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

    ISTANBUL — The No. 1 ranking is up for grabs this week at the WTA’s season-ending Championships in Istanbul. Maria Sharapova is the only player with a chance — albeit a slim one — to unseat Victoria Azarenka as the No. 1 player in the world. While the scenarios are somewhat complex given the round robin tournament format, the simple version is that Sharapova has to win the title and hope that Azarenka fails to win two matches in group play.

    Given the fact the top ranking isn’t in her control, Sharapova said it’s not on her mind as she prepares for the tournament, which begins on Tuesday.

    “I don’t like to think about what’s not in control, in my destiny, and not in my hands,” she told a group of reporters here in Istanbul. “It would be a great achievement, no doubt, but I’ve ben No. 1 before. The more matches I win here the better the chance I have of accomplishing that, I guess.”

    “But it’s not the biggest priority this week.”

    Sharapova opens her tournament against Sara Errani — a rematch of this year’s French Open final — on Tuesday.


  • Published On Oct 22, 2012
  • Roger Federer’s 300 weeks at No. 1 a tribute to greatness

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    *****

    This marks Roger Federer’s 300th week at No. 1, a feat that is a testament to both his consistent dominance over the last eight years and his physical resilience. At a time when his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, has been forced off the tour because of the physical demands of the modern game, Federer is still going strong at 31. Federer has never retired in the middle of a match in his 14-year career — he’s played 1,066 — and has withdrawn from a tournament only twice. He’s the Cal Ripken Jr. of tennis, an iron man who just so happens to be one of the best — if not the best — to ever pick up a racket.

    Federer reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in July after making Wimbledon his 17th Grand Slam title and first major championship in more than two years. In doing so, the Swiss matched Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks atop the rankings and has held the position since.

    Read More…


  • Published On Oct 16, 2012
  • Roger Federer passes Pete Sampras to hold No. 1 record

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    Roger Federer eclipsed Pete Sampras as the most weeks at No. 1, now 287 and counting. (Zumapress)

    The day has finally arrived.

    With the new ATP rankings that were released today, Roger Federer has passed Pete Sampras to become the outright record-holder for the number of weeks spent at No. 1 with 287 weeks and counting.

    Federer first took hold of the No. 1 ranking in February 2004 and held that spot for a record 237 consecutive weeks — smashing the previous men’s record of 160 consecutive weeks held by Jimmy Connors and the all-time record of 186 weeks held by Steffi Graf  –  before a muscly kid from Mallorca ended his run in August of 2008. He regained the No. 1 ranking after his epic victory over Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009 and held it for 48 weeks, leaving him a mere one week shy of tying Sampras’ record of 286 weeks (darn that rascally Rafa).

    But with questions swirling about his resiliency, consistency — and let’s face it: his age — combined with the sudden rise of Novak Djokovic, Sampras’ record was looking pretty safe. But after his crushing loss to Djokovic at last year’s U.S. Open, Federer embarked  on a steady climb back, finishing 2011 undefeated with a 17-0 record and continued his form when the calendar clicked over, making the semifinals of both the Australian Open and French Open, going on another 17-0 streak in the spring, before topping it all off with his seventh Wimbledon title, 17th major title, first major since 2010, and return to the No. 1 ranking. That he was able to attain this record in just three stints at No. 1 speaks to his consistency and dominance. It took Sampras 11 periods at No. 1 to set the previous record.

    With all the top men out of action until the Olympics, he’s assured to keep adding to the tally. But let’s not assume his reign will end there. While he’s only 75 points ahead of No. 2 Novak Djokovic (and a whopping 2, 170 ahead of Rafael Nadal), Federer has a good chance to widen the gap at the Olympics, where the point distribution will be as follows: gold: 750, silver: 450, bronze: 340, fourth place: 270, quarters: 135, third round, 70, second round: 35, first round: 5.

    Djokovic would have to make the quarterfinals to have a chance to catch Federer, and if they both make it that far, Roger just needs to match Djokovic’s result to stay ahead. Not that Roger cares about that. He’s going for singles gold, one of the few accolades (along with a Davis Cup title) that has eluded him, and he’s the favorite going into the tournament. Given his otherworldly display eight days ago on Centre Court, it’s hard to bet against him.

    Here’s a video the ATP put together to commemorate Roger’s 17 major titles. It’s a fitting day to re-live them all. Because you don’t hold on to that top ranking for 287 weeks unless you win titles. A lot of titles. The most in men’s tennis history.


  • Published On Jul 16, 2012
  • The Toss: ATP’s Big Three could all take over No. 1 at Wimbledon

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    Novak Djokovic had to go through Rafael Nadal to capture his first Wimbledon title in 2011. (EPA)

    Wimbledon is fast approaching. Last week on The Toss, Ben Rothenberg joined to discuss which was likely to happen first: A French player wins Roland Garros, or a British player wins Wimbledon. The readers were almost in a dead heat in our poll. Whether or not Andy Murray can make a run at Wimbledon this year is yet to be seen, as the Big Three have had a stranglehold on Grand Slams since 2005.

    This week, Hannah Wilks, a frequent contributor to Tennis.com, joins The Toss to look at some plausible scenarios surrounding the biggest names on the men’s side.

    Today Toss: Of the ATP’s Big Three, for whom is it most important to win Wimbledon, potentially taking over the No. 1 ranking in the process?

    Courtney Nguyen: Thanks for joining me this week, Hannah. I’m sure you’re enjoying the rain delay in Eastbourne as much as I am. While the weather has stopped us from reveling in the high-powered clash between Great Britain’s own Peter Ashley and America’s Mackenzie McDonald (all part of the LTA Challenge Cup, which pits the two countries’ juniors against each other), let’s turn to talking some men’s tennis.

    As if this year’s Championships at Wimbledon needed more intrigue, it turns out that Rafael Nadal’s clay surge, Novak Djokovic’s slight dip, and Roger Federer’s consistent form has led to the No. 1 ranking being up for grabs for the first time since… well, Wimbledon. All three men have a chance to walk away from the All England Lawn and Tennis Club in two and a half weeks with the No. 1 ranking (and I send my commiseration’s to you that, per usual, your own Andy Murray is not part of the conversation).

    Here’s a quick rundown of the scenarios:

    • Djokovic retains the No. 1 ranking if he makes the Wimbledon final.
    • Federer can retake No. 1 if he wins the title and Djokovic does not advance beyond the semis.
    • Nadal, can reclaim the top spot if he wins the title and Djokovic does not advance beyond the quarters.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jun 21, 2012
  • Wimbledon seedings alter slightly from ATP rankings, women line up

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    Mardy Fish Wimbledon

    Mardy Fish received a bump in the seedings to No. 10 due to his quarterfinal run in Wimbledon 2011. (SI)

    The official list of the Wimbledon 2012 seedings are out and while there are no changes for the women, there are a few alterations for the men. Unlike the other three Slams, the great tennis authorities at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club reserve the right to ignore the official ATP and WTA rankings and shuffle the players around in order to give a bump to certain players who have shown particular prowess and success on grass. Isn’t that just so British?

    This year, the women’s seedings follow the WTA rankings, meaning the AELTC felt no need to shuffle the seeds. Interestingly, the committee applies a much more arbitrary set of criteria to the women than the men. While the men’s seedings are based on a very specific formula (ATP points + grass court points from the last 12 months + 75 percent of grass court points from the 12 months before that) the women’s criteria is less than clear. The committee simply uses the WTA rankings “except where in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw.” That’s an odd and seemingly unnecessarily disparate set of criteria.

    If the committee did apply the same mathematical formula to the women, surely Serena Williams would get a bump (benefiting from her champion’s points from 2010), as would Marion Bartoli (2011 Wimbledon quarterfinalist and 2011 Eastbourne champion), and Sabine Lisicki (2011 Wimbledon semifinalist and Eastbourne champion). And if the committee were to apply the formula to players outside of the top 32, Tsvetana Pironkova, who made the semis in 2010 and quarters last year, would have surely earned herself a seeding, and rightfully so.

    While the women’s seeds remain unchanged, the ATP seeds do see some shuffling, with application of the aforementioned formula. The biggest mover: Bernard Tomic, ranked No. 27, will be seeded No. 20 for Wimbledon thanks to his quarterfinal run last year. Similarly, Mikhail Youzhny sees his seeding go up six spots to No. 26 due to making the fourth round last year.

    As for the Americans, Mardy Fish gets a two spot bump to No. 10 (welcome back, Mardy), which slides John Isner down a spot to No. 11, and for those who were worried that Andy Roddick, currently ranked No. 33 and thus unseeded for Wimbledon (risking a first round clash with the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal), worry no more. Gael Monfils’ withdrawal from Wimbledon meant Roddick would have gone in as the No. 32 seed, and the AELTC has given him a two spot bump to No. 30.


  • Published On Jun 20, 2012
  • Can Roger Federer get back to No. 1?

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    Roger Federer

    Roger Federer has started 2012 off with four titles and is giving chase to Novak Djokovic’s No. 1 ranking. (SIPA)

    With Roger Federer’s return to the No. 2 ranking after his win in Madrid, the next logical question is whether he can supplant Novak Djokovic and recapture No. 1 for the first time since May 2010. That would be a tremendous accomplishment for the 30-year-old, who needs only two weeks at No. 1 to eclipse Pete Sampras’ record for most weeks (286) atop the rankings.

    Here’s a look at how it could happen.

    Heading into Rome, Federer was 1,770 points behind Djokovic, a gap he could very well close given the fact that Djokovic has to defend titles at Rome, Wimbledon, Montreal and the U.S. Open (as well as the semifinals at the French Open), while Federer’s best results are the finals of Roland Garros and semifinals of the U.S. Open. Overall, the Serb has 7,320 points to defend through the U.S. Open, while Federer has only 2,640. That’s a huge swing of points up for grabs.

    And very generally speaking, Djokovic can only defend his points, while Federer can only gain on him (unless, of course, he crashes out very early in these events).

    Read More…


  • Published On May 17, 2012


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