Heading to the US swing, we can say we had a pretty decent first half of the season, which showed, a bit unexpectedly, the return of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at their best level of shape and game. Federer and Nadal dominated these first seven months of 2017, winning all three Grand Slam of the year and 9 titles in two.
Federer won the Australian Open and took his eighth Wimbledon title two weeks ago, becoming the only man in the history to achieve that, overtaking American Peter Sampras, who has seven. The 35-year-old also secured Indian Wells and Miami titles on hard court and his beloved Halle on grass. Federer’s only losses this year came against Russian Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai and German veteran Tommy Haas in Stuttgart (he had match points in both matches). But as we can see, his peak moment came after he picked up the 130th edition of The Championships, which he won without losing a single set for the first time in his career. Federer also became the oldest man in the Open Era to acquire the Wimbledon title, just a few weeks before his 36th birthday.
On the other hand, Nadal confirmed his domination on clay court season, which he ended with a historic 24-1 win/loss record, with his only defeat coming in the Rome Masters quarterfinals against young talent Dominic Thiem. Rafa also became the first player to win the same tournament ten times, but the amazing fact is that he did it in three different tournaments: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and in the French Open.
Federer and Nadal’s success been facilitated by the poor results of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic this year
The World No. 1 had trouble continuing his great results obtained in the second half of last year, and in fact he has only won Dubai’s ATP 500 in March. He surprisingly lost in Australian Open fourth round from the oldest Zverev brother, Mischa, and had a lot of problems during Wimbledon, where he wasn’t in top shape and struggled a lot in the first rounds, even if he lost only one set in the first four matches at SW19 (against Fabio Fognini in the third round) before losing to Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.
Novak Djokovic started the year very well with the Doha title, but then he earned only one other victory, in Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon, which he played thanks to a wild card. Soon after the English title, he seemed to look in good shape again but in Wimbledon he was forced to retire after one set in the quarter final’s match against Tomas Berdych. He’s had tough elbow problems, that forced him to call it a season. He will hopefully come back to tour next year; a good rest is maybe what he needs for his health. This week Djokovic left the top 4 of the rankings for the first time since june 2007, when he was only 20. At the time of his comeback, Djokovic will likely be outside the top 10 and maybe the top 20 too.
In the actual ATP race, Federer and Nadal hold the top two spots with a solid 3000 points lead on third, Dominic Thiem. They have already secured their spot in the World Tour Finals in London.
With Andy Murray struggling, they have also a chance to get the World No. 1 in the world ranking. Nadal is only 300 points away and is possibly going to take it in the coming weeks. He could even do it as early as Montreal, assuming he plays (Federer, Murray, and Nadal are all rumored to potentially skip Montreal, and Djokovic has obviously already withdrawn). Federer is 1000 points behind Nadal but he has more chances to gain this achievement since he has no points to defend until the end of the year. This basically means that with a title there he would get very close.
Murray also has a lot of points to defend for the rest of the season, since he practically dominated the second part of 2016. After taking Olympic gold for the second time in his career in Rio de Janeiro, the Scot reached the final in Cincinnati’s Masters and the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. But his best results came after the US Open, when he picked up 25 wins in a row from the start of October until the end of the season in the late November, triumphing in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Paris, and in the World Tour Finals.
Murray needs to play much better than he did so far in 2017, but what he needs is to stay healthy. Maybe a month break until the US Open would be fair for him, as he absolutely has to defend his points after the US Open. He is doubtful to play it, and some sources hint he may take a long break just like Djokovic or Nadal and Federer did last year.
We’ll see if Murray and Djokovic have the strength to get back up again, showing the amazing fighting spirit they already proved during their successful careers.
Federer and Nadal managed to do it. Can these two do it too, proving that they’re on the same level?