ATP Race for No. 1 Between Nadal and Djokovic; Wimbledon News — The Friday Five
By Maud Watson
Race for No. 1
After a record-setting eighth Roland Garros title, Rafael Nadal has put himself in a prime position to finish as the year-end No. 1 for the second time in his career. Though Nadal typically doesn’t perform as strongly in the second half of the season as he does in the first, he usually performs well at the key events like Wimbledon, the US Open, and at least one or two of the Masters events. Then there’s the defending points factor. Nadal may stand nearly 5,000 points behind current No. 1 Djokovic, but the Spaniard only has 90 to defend from here on out compared to 6,800 for the Serb. Couple that with the way Nadal has dominated the courts since his return in February, and reaching the pinnacle of the rankings looks like a distinct possibility. The pressure is on Djokovic to defend what he did in 2012 by shaking off the disappointment of losing such a close semifinal against Nadal a week ago in Paris. It’s a subplot to keep an eye on throughout the remainder of 2013.
Chalk another one of the veterans against the next generation, as Lleyton Hewitt has played some inspiring and gritty tennis to book a spot in the quarterfinals of Queen’s. The Aussie had to come from behind in his opener against American Michael Russell, but since then, he’s taken out both upstart Dimitrov and big-hitting Sam Querrey. Hewitt has won the title in London on multiple occasions, so he’s no stranger to the lawns. But given the amount of injuries he’s had to overcome, this has to qualify as a pretty satisfying start to his grass court campaign. Juan Martin del Potro may prove a tough out, but with the Argentine still looking rusty after his own recent layoff, Hewitt has a good look at going even deeper and setting himself up nicely for not only the remainder of the all-too-short grass court season, but the upcoming summer hard court series as well.
Over and Out
A couple of popular ATP favorites are already out of Wimbledon, with reports that Fish is planning to skip and Monfils is a definite no-show. Fish’s withdrawal isn’t a shocker given that the American had already pulled out of Queen’s and has played so little this season. He has reportedly been in contact with the folks in Atlanta and confirmed to them that they will be his first event since playing earlier this spring. Monfils’ withdrawal is a little more mysterious. He’s playing this week in Halle and has already caused an upset by upending Ranoic. Despite his good start in Halle and decent run in Paris, however, the Frenchman has been forced to withdraw from SW19 due to a personal problem. He didn’t elaborate on what that problem is, but it is serious enough for him to skip the year’s third major. Hopefully we’ll see both men back soon, as they’re still capable of producing some eye-catching tennis.
Two players who will be in Wimbledon thanks to a couple of wildcards are Andrea Petkovic and Nicolas Mahut. The German woman is a former Top 10 player, and though she’s been struggling in her comeback due to a litany of injuries, she still has plenty of potential. With any luck, the generosity of Wimbledon will spark a deep run so that she isn’t reduced to applying for wildcards or playing qualies in the months to come. That’s a scenario that’s a little less likely with Mahut. The Frenchman is definitely closer to the end of his career and never enjoyed the same kind of singles success as Petkovic. But he is part of Wimbledon history as one of the two men to contest the longest match as the Championships when he lost 68-70 to John Isner in 2010. Mahut also recently reached the doubles final at Roland Garros, and he does have a nice grass court game. If ever there was place where he might be able to produce a bit of a magic from the kindness of a wildcard, it would be on the lawns of Wimbledon.
Making the Cut
Forbes recently released its annual list of 100 highest-paid athletes and tennis impressively supplied its fair share of members. The list looks at revenue earned from June 1, 2012 – June 1, 2013, which is generated from prize money, endorsements, and appearance fees. Not surprisingly, Roger Federer was the top among tennis players, and he was very nearly the top banana overall. The Swiss finished second behind golf’s Tiger Woods with $71.5 million. His fellow ATP pros Djokovic and Nadal also made the list at 28 and 30 respectively (which in Nadal’s case is particularly impressive given that he missed the second half of 2013). There were only three women to even appear on the list, and tennis swept those spots, with Sharapova (22), Serena Williams (68), and Li Na (85) all posting hefty incomes the previous year. It’s once again wonderful to see an individual sport like tennis so well represented on the list and hats off to the six who made the cut.