Tennis titans in a tantalising race for rankings

Jocelyn McLennan Roar Pro

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    Andy Murray has had some success but plenty of defeat in grand slam finals. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA

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    The race for the year-end number one ranking is shaping up as one of the closest in many years. Roger Federer is currently holding on to top position despite losing in the quarter finals of the US Open.

    The new rankings, which were released on the tenth of September, have Federer leading on 11,805 points, 1,335 ahead of Novak Djokovic on 10,470.

    Rafael Nadal’s continued absence has seen Andy Murray overtake him in the rankings at number three after a gain of 2,000 points from his US Open victory. Murray is 1,055 points clear of Nadal with a total of 8,570.

    The Spaniard, who has been sidelined since Wimbledon by his troublesome knees, has already pulled out of this week’s Davis Cup semi-finals. He is now expected to make a comeback several weeks before the season ending ATP World Tour Finals.

    Nadal’s return and his level of fitness will indicate whether he is still a major member of the ‘big four’, or whether it could be renamed the ‘big three’. If Rafael’s injuries continue to trouble him then his ranking may slide further.

    All attention now turns to the top three, and who will be ranked number one at the conclusion of the ATP World Tour Finals.

    Murray will need to win all three remaining Masters 1000 Series events, without Federer or Djokovic making any finals, to have a chance at taking the number one ranking.

    However, the ATP could still name him the Player of the Year if he finishes this season in the same kind of form that he has displayed since Wimbledon.

    Federer is participating in the Davis Cup Play-off Round against the Netherlands this weekend. He played the same round last year against Australia and was well below his best, mainly due to travel and the fatigue it caused.

    That had a lasting effect on the remainder of Federer’s season. This tie is in Europe, so travel fatigue should not be a factor.

    Djokovic is scheduled to play the China Open, a 500 point event, on the first of October. A positive result there could edge him closer to Federer, as the Swiss is not scheduled to play that week.

    The next big clash of the top three will be at the Shanghai Masters on the seventh of October, where Andy Murray is the defending champion and thus risks losing ground on the top two if he fails to win.

    Depending on the results from Shanghai, Federer could earn some breathing space if he defends his hometown title in Basel, worth 500 points, on the 22nd of October.

    The last battleground prior to the World Tour Finals in London is the Paris Indoor tournament, where Federer is again the defending champion, with points to consolidate.

    Everything points to a tantalising conclusion in London on November fifth, in what has been the closest and most competitive year on the men’s tour in a decade.