Predicted winners in BOLD
Dan Martin’s 2013 Power Ranking #5
1. Novak Djokovic – Nole is number one, but he needs to rest his ankle if he is going to make an assault on Roland Garros.
2. Rafael Nadal (Tie) - 3 consecutive tournament titles, including his first hard court title in over 2 years, have Rafa geared up for another European clay court season.
2. Andy Murray (Tie) – Winning Miami along with his early results in Brisbane and Melbourne have Murray tied for #2 with Nadal. Change since last ranking +1
4. Tomas Berdych - He played well enough in Miami to stay at #4.
5. Roger Federer – We’ll know more about where Federer’s game and health are when the clay court season ends.
6. David Ferrer – His runner-up showing in Miami leads to a gain in my not yet binding Power Ranking. Change since last ranking +1
7. Juan Martin del Potro - An early loss in Miami only costs the Big Man one spot. Change since last ranking -1
8. Richard Gasquet – He is quietly putting together his best start to any season. Change since last ranking +1
9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – We’ll know more after Wimbledon. Change since last ranking -1
10. Tommy Haas - The old man of the tour reached the semifinal round in Miami by pulling a huge upset or two. Change since last ranking – unranked
Biggest Movers – Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet all gained one spot while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro both dropped one spot.
Dropped Out – Milos Raonic (despite some nice Davis Cup play)
Entered the Rankings – Tommy Haas
The Big Four Help
The US Open is obviously a Grand Slam event. One third of the ATP’s Masters 1000 events reside inside of the United States. The Wimbledon and French Open championship start times are designed to get access to some of the television market in the US. Yet, the US does not currently have a male player ranked within the top 15 in the world. Under ordinary circumstances, this would mean casual tennis fans would tune out inside the US. Luckily, Roger Federer has been an incredible ambassador for tennis since 2004. Rafael Nadal has won over many fans with a different style than Roger’s. Novak Djokovic has brought a different personality and style of play that has made its way into the US sporting consciousness. Andy Murray’s Olympic Gold and US Open title in 2012 helped him to make strides as well. Federer reached his first major final in 2003, Nadal in 2005, Djokovic in 2007 and Murray in 2008. Their consistency and general affability, along with Andy Roddick’s results, have helped keep tennis relevant for general fans of sports inside the US.
Where Have You Gone Andy Roddick or Aaron Krickstein?
Andy Roddick won the 2003 US Open and was runner-up at four other Grand Slam events. Andy Roddick reached at least a Grand Slam semifinal round on ten different occasions. His contemporaries James Blake and Mardy Fish have combined for a handful of Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances, but neither has yet reached the final four of a slam. Younger US players have combined for a total of one Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance. John Isner lost in the 2011 US Open quarterfinal round. Sam Querrey, the highest ranked US player, along with Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, and Denis Kudla have yet to reach a quarter at a major.
Todd Martin (no relation) was runner-up at both the 1994 Australian Open and the 1999 US Open. Mal Washington was runner-up at the 1996 Wimbledon Championships due in part to defeating Todd Martin in five sets in the semifinal round. Aaron Krickstein reached a US Open semifinal in 1989 and an Australian Open semifinal in 1995. David Wheaton reached the 1991 Wimbledon semifinals. Robby Ginepri’s 2005 US Open semifinal run is the only comprable story in recent years.*
Where Things Stand
No country can ever bank on producing record setting champions such as Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras. To this point, the current crop of US players has not come close to producing results along the lines of what great players such as Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Vitas Gerulaitus or Andy Roddick achieved. Few tennis fans remember Todd Martin or Mal Washington as key US players during the 1990s. However, a male US citizen becoming a Grand Slam finalist would be a welcome site for the USTA.
Mardy Fish won a silver medal in 2004. James Blake and Mardy Fish have each appeared in Masters 1000 championship matches. Blake contested a classic match against Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open. We’ve seen Isner compete in a historic marathon while also carving out a lot of success on faster courts and in Davis Cup. Sam Querrey has rebounded nicely from an injury. Finally, the very group of uber consistent Europeans known as the Big Four have made second week Grand Slam efforts harder to muster.
The US is becoming increasingly diverse. A top ten dominated by players from Europe, South America and Asia will find prospective fans living in various parts of the US. Beyond that, advances in broadcast quality have made tennis easier and easier to appreciate. A US citizen won at least one slam on the men’s tour from 1989-2003. Yet, tennis has been enjoying a popularity spike within the US that began in 2006? Maybe things are not as gloomy as they appear.
In 10 Years?
In a decade Roger Federer will be 41. Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray will each likely be out of tennis as well. If the US does not produce a few top ten players over the next decade, I cannot imagine that tennis will be as popular as it is today in my home country. Federer and Nadal are transcendent champions. Novak Djokovic has done ballroom dancing en route to an Australian Open title. Nole is close to joining the ranks of tennis’ pantheon. Regardless of who the US produces, tennis will need to find some exceptional players to fill the void that the Big Four will leave. Still, a few US players making runs can only help keep the profile of the sport high. That is vital for tennis given the events that are held on US soil and the importance of the US television market.
* Since Ginepri is still out there grinding away on tour, he is the only active US citizen on the ATP Tour with a Grand Slam semifinal appearance to his name.
Linked Over the Past 52 Weeks
Andy Murray and David Ferrer had a pair of intense matches at the 2012 French Open and Wimbledon events. Each man took a hard earned four set victory on his preferred surface. Since that time, Murray has won an Olympic Gold Medal and a US Open title. Ferrer led the tour in tournament victories in 2012 and won his first Masters 1000 crown. Both have had some tough losses as well. Novak Djokovic made Andy Murray into a three-time Australian Open runner-up. Ferrer got smashed by Djokovic in Australia and by Nadal in Acapulco. The winner will leave the first portion of 2013 with momentum.
Ferrer Deserves Credit
David Ferrer reached his first French Open semifinal in 2012 only to be crushed by Rafael Nadal. He followed that with a grass court title, a victory over Andy Roddick on grass, and a tough Wimbledon quarterfinal loss to Andy Murray. Ferrer reached the 2012 US Open and 2013 Australian Open semifinal rounds. Novak Djokovic then laid a beating on Ferrer. All David did was go win Buenos Aires and reach the final in Acapulco. Once again he took a one-sided beating at the hands of one of his superiors on tour (this time Nadal). All David has done is reach a Masters 1000 final in Miami. Ferrer is undeterred by some harsh reminders that he lacks the weapons generally needed to claim tennis’ biggest prizes. If he wins Miami, he’ll add that to his Paris title from 2012 and various Davis Cup victories.
Andy Murray is at Home
Miami is a training ground for Andy Murray. He has played quite well at this Masters event. Miami’s slow hard courts are ideally suited for his return game. Murray won Miami in 2009 and was runner-up in 2012. These factors would seemingly bode well for him versus Ferrer. Murray has a 6-5 head-to-head record versus Ferrer. He is 5-1 on hard courts in their rivalry. Still, the 2011 Australian Open semifinal went 4 sets, and Ferrer has had more success versus Murray than any of the other members of the big 4. All of this leads me to predict a close victory for Murray. I think Murray wins his second title in Miami 7-5, 7-5.
Predicted Winners in BOLD
Gasquet Posted a Huge QF Win
Haas has Beaten Djokovic and Federer Over the Past 52 Weeks
Predicted Winners in BOLD
Beware the Ides of March
Predicted Winners in BOLD
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8) – Et tu Tsonga? Doubtful. Nole advances to the semis.
Andy Murray (3) vs. Juan Martin del Potro (7) – If Murray is still nuring his Australian Open loss, Delpo has a great chance at an upset. My guess is Murray is slowly moving toward the Wimbledon-US Open stretch with hopes of a decent run on clay. Therefore, an unburdened Murray advances.
Maria Sharapova (2) vs. Maria Kirilenko (13) – Kirilenko could win, but the odds are heavily in favor of Sharapova advancing.
Angelique Kerber (4) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (8) – I see Caro building on her win over Azarenka with a win here.
Predicted Winners in BOLD
Gilles Simon (13) vs. Kevin Anderson - Simon has struggled versus Isner who is the best analog for Anderson I can find. Also, Anderson beat Ferrer who is a good analog for Simon. I love Gilles’ game, but the big man advances.
Predicted Winner in BOLD
Marin Cilic (12) vs. Milos Raonic (17) – This is the most interesting match of the day. The Croatian versus the Canadian with Serbian roots. One is reclaiming lost momentum in his career. The other is trying to move into another tier. I think Raonic will win because he does have a top 5 serve even if the rest of his game is a work in progress.
Predicted Winner in BOLD
STADIUM 1 Start 11:00 am
 Mardy Fish (USA) v [Q] Bobby Reynolds (USA)
 Andy Murray (GBR) v Evgeny Donskoy (RUS)
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Fabio Fognini (ITA) – This should be entertaining, but Nole should also roll.
[WC] James Blake (USA) v  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) - An upset is possible here, but only if Tsonga is off of his game.
STADIUM 2 Start 11:00 am
 Marin Cilic (CRO) v Albert Ramos (ESP) – Cilic has made a nice return to the top 20 after his promising 2009 and early 2010. Ramos is capable of the upset though as Cilic can throw in a bad match from time to time.
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) v  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) – The 2009 World Tour Final championship match revisited. JMDP should advance.
 Sam Querrey (USA) v [Q] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) – Expect tie-breaks to be played
STADIUM 3 Start 11:00 am
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v  Juan Monaco (ARG) - Monaco has had a quiet 2013.
 Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – After his Australian Open collapse, it is possible that Almagro is going to struggle.
[Q] Philipp Petzschner (GER) v  Kei Nishikori (JPN) – My first upset pick.
COURT 7 Start 11:00 am
 Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) v Carlos Berlocq (ARG) – Berlocq is match tough after the Latin American swing of the tour.
Pablo Andujar (ESP) v  Tommy Haas (GER) – A 50-50 match in my mind. Haas gets the nod due to the surface, but the old man of the tour should not take Andujar lightly.
[Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) v  Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) – Is he due for a breakthrough or not?
COURT 8 Start 11:00 am
 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) v Bjorn Phau (GER) – Chardy should beat the diminutive veteran.
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) v  Martin Klizan (SVK)