Thursday, September 20, 2012

My vote for ATP player of the year

We are three quarters of the way through the year.  Four slams have come and gone.  Although there are still several important tournaments left (e.g. Shanghai and BNP Paribas Masters & the World Tour Finals) it's not too early to think about the ATP player of the year.  Here are my rankings heading into the fall and winter stretch.

The Men

  1. Roger Federer:  How can you deny the king his rightful throne.  Sure, he fell a bit short at the Olympics and exited the U.S. Open earlier than expected. But he did claim his 17th grand slam and record tying seventh Wimbledon title.  He also nabbed the #1 ranking again, allowing him to break Pete Sampras' record number of weeks ranked #1.  If he wins a record breaking seventh world tour final (breaking his own record), then there is little doubt he wins the award.  And given his success in the O2 arena, do we dare doubt him?
  2. Andy Murray:  Murray makes two grand slam finals (Wimbledon & U.S. Open), winning one, the U.S. Open, his first grand slam title.  In addition, Murray gains extra points for winning the gold medal at his home slam site, the wimbledon tennis grounds.  I want to give Murray the edge with Roger, but I sense a major letdown due to mental fatigue.  Nonetheless, he had an amazing year that he should be very proud of.
  3. Novak Djokovic: Novak's great year is overshadowed by his other-worldly accomplishments from last year.  When you shoot for, and land on the stars, everyone expects the same.  This year, Novak merely landed on the moon.  Winning one slam and making the final in two others is a season most top pros would love to have.  For Novak to win player of the year honors, he will have to run the table during the remaining big events.  Given the potential fatigue factor of Murray and Roger's mental and physical burnout, he may pull the trick.  
 The Darkhorse:  Rafael Nadal.  What a crazy year it must be when I am labeling Rafa a darkhorse.  We don't even know if he will play a tournament again this year.  Perhaps he returns in time to help lead Spain in Davis Cup?  Perhaps he returns only for the World Tour Finals?  We just don't know.  But, if he does return to win the World Tour Finals in London, and leads Spain to another Davis Cup title, how do we not pick clay maestro.  Remember, before his knee injury, he absolutely obliterated the field, running roughshod over everyone else on clay courts not named the smurf turf.

Stay tuned for the WTA Player of the Year rankings.

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