What Ever Happened to Consistency?

Written By: achangeofends - Apr• 25•10

For years now, I’ve been able to comfortably sit down to watch a match between any top 5 player and a player out of the top 5 with little belief that an upset was possible. However, recently the game has changed. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been the dominant figures in tennis for at least the past 5 years and players like Djokovic, Murray and Roddick have continued to float around the top 10. It’s been rare that any new players have a chance to break into the top 5 or 10 because the players at the top of the rankings have just been too dominant over the past several years to make room for any new comers.

Lately, there’s actually been a bit of movement around the top 10. Is this some kind of mid-season slump, or are we looking at a changing of the guard? While Roger Federer may not have won any titles since the Australian Open yet, but he is still an unshakable number one. Federer’s over 3,000 points ahead of any other player in the rankings. He may not have won the most titles this year, but he’s been playing a more limited schedule, and frankly he won the one that counts. Federer will go into this year’s French Open as the defending champion for the first time, but I don’t think this will add to the pressure. He’s already completed the career grand slam and bested Sampras’ all time record. Federer has nothing to lose and is undoubtedly the most consistent player in Grand Slam tournaments on the the tour. I’m not sure he’ll win this one, but he’ll defend plenty of points to retain his number one spot going into the summer.

Djokovic has had a lackluster year so far. The change in his service motion and switching back and forth between coaches doesn’t seem to have helped his game. He may be number two in the rankings, but that has less to do with merit than the injuries plaguing usual number two, Nadal. Frankly, Djokovic has been coasting since his Australian Open win in 2008 and if he has any shot at winning another slam, he’s going to have to dig a little deeper. While his clay court game has improved, I wouldn’t give him great chances at this year’s French. Djokovic’s next big hope for a Slam win will come in September at the US Open. Let’s hope he can find his game by then and earn his number two spot.

It’s truly a shame that Rafael Nadal’s career has been plagued by injuries at such an early age. He is only 23 and already has 37 career singles titles. That’s a truly amazing statistic. If he can manage to stay healthy, that number should easily double. However, Nadal seems to be in a bit of slump lately. Last week’s win in Monte Carlo should be a big ego boost since he hasn’t won a tournament since Rome in 2009. That’s almost a year with no titles. Nadal’s win in Monte Carlo also marked a record 6th title in a row at the MCCC, a feat never accomplished by another player, not even Roger Federer. This week, Nadal was meant to be going for a 6th title in Barcelona, but pulled out for fear of re-injuring his knee. However, I wouldn’t count Nadal out just yet. I think he’s probably just being extra cautious in the weeks leading up to the French Open in hopes of regaining his crown. I expect we’ll be seeing him in the final at Roland Garros in a few weeks, if not winning the whole tournament.

The fourth spot is really what I’d like to discuss in terms of players slipping around the top 10. Juan Martin del Potro currently holds the number 4 ATP ranking, a career high for the Argentinian. However, del Potro hasn’t played a single tournament since the Australian Open as he has been out indefinitely with a wrist injury. This means that players like Murray have slipped so far that they are being overtaken by players that aren’t even currently playing on the tour. That said, I hope del Potro recovers quickly and can return to the tour in time to defend his US Open title. He is an extremely talented young player.

Andy Murray…what can I say? Murray started the year off with a bang. It seemed like he would finally put the Brits out of their misery and win a Grand Slam. While the match wasn’t a blow out like his US Open final, Roger Federer very clearly dominated the young Scotsman. Getting to the final of a Grand Slam is nothing to scoff at, but it’s the rest of Murray’s year that has me worried. It just seems like something’s not quite right. He hasn’t won a single title yet this year and exited in the second rounds in both Dubai and Miami. Unfortunately, I don’t see Andy’s year getting much better from here. Like every year, soon Andy will start to feel the pressure of Wimbledon looming ahead and the extra stress most likely won’t help his already ailing game.

To round out the top 10, Davydenko is currently out with a broken wrist, so I’d expect to see him fall a spot or two in the coming months. Andy Roddick is hiding out during the clay court season. Roddick hasn’t played any tournaments since winning in Miami and has pulled out of this week’s mandatory tournament in Rome, citing personal reasons. However, according to TMZ it looks like his personal reason was a beach vacation with wife Brooklyn Decker. Soderling and Verdasco squared off in today’s Barcelona final, which Verdasco won, a nice victory for him considering his defeat in Monte Carlo last week. Jo Wilfried Tsonga rounds out today’s top 10, but I’d expect a little movement in spots 9 and 10 in the upcoming weeks as there are plenty of points to be gained and lost.

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