Monday, March 30, 2015

The ATP Race to Number One Could be Over Before it Begins

One of the most intriguing aspects of the ATP season is often following the race to the year end number one.  However, it's looking like the 2015 race could be short on competition after Novak Djokovic's strong start to the year.  While he may not be dominating the season as much as he did in 2011 (where he probably doesn't get enough credit for not losing a single match until the French Open finals), he's already building a sizable lead in the points race.  If he wins Miami as expected, it's hard to see anyone catching him the rest of the year.

Even if Murray (who is currently in second in the race) makes the finals, Djokovic would have nearly a 2,000 point lead over him.  Murray seems to be over his post Aussie Open funk, but is still prone to the occasional early loss.  Furthermore, he usually gives up too many points during the clay court season to Nadal and Djokovic to be a serious threat to end the year end number one. 

Nadal will likely close the gap during the clay court season, but it's unlikely to be enough given how far behind he is.  Djokovic is an excellent clay court player himself, and may have his best chance ever to capture the title at Roland Garros.  Even if Nadal does get close to Djokovic after the clay court season, it's hard to see him keeping up the rest of the year.  Unless Nadal miraculously finds his 2013 hard court form, he'll slip further and further away without the dirt under his feet. 

Federer is 16-2 to start the year, and will likely make a run of his own.  However, he's already well behind Djokovic and it's not clear if he's going to play enough tournaments to catch up.  Skipping Miami didn't help his chances, and he may struggle to keep up on the clay.  To have any chance at number one Federer will likely have to win either Wimbledon or the US Open, if not both.  Given that he hasn't won a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2012, that seems to be asking a bit much despite his excellent form.  Federer could make it interesting, but he'll have to be nearly flawless to catch the Serbian number one.  


  1. Great stuff. You are totally on point with your analysis. For Nadal to finish No. 1, he has to have a big lead after Roland Garros, which seems almost impossible. Federer skips too many important events, showing No. 1 isn't even a priority for him. Then there's Murray who has never played well enough on clay to keep up with the other three in the race. Also, he has lost badly to Djokovic already three times this year. I don't know what he can do to turn that around. It's crazy to think that Djokovic has clinched year end No. 1 just three months into the year, but who is going to challenge him? I'm curious which player from outside the Big Four you think has the best chance of challenging Djokovic. Berdych is No. 3 in the rankings. Is it him or someone younger?

  2. Sorry, just saw this. It's definitely hard to see who might take over number one from him for the next few years. Things can certainly change quickly in tennis, but at this point it's hard to imagine anyone else becoming number one.