The US Open 2019 main draw action begins on 26th of August, but for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the fight for the No. 2 seed begins now. Before the US Open begins, the North American hard-court swing also entails two prestigious Masters 1000 events: he Rogers Cup in Montreal and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Both Nadal and Federer have important ranking points to defend in the coming weeks. It may prove pivotal to who bags the No. 2 seed when the draw for US Open 2019 takes place.
The Ranking System
For all those who aren’t familiar with how the ranking system works, here’s a quick explanation.
Every Monday, the ranking points are updated accordingly for each player. Different tournaments have different ranking points associated with them, and each round has a fixed number of points allocated to it.
The four Grand Slams award 2000 points to the winner, 1200 points to the runner up, 720 points to the two losing semifinalists and so on. The nine ATP Masters 1000–as the name suggests–award 1000 points to the winner, 600 points to the runner up and so on. The ATP 500 and 250 series follow a similar system.
The points gained in a tournament are dropped after 52 weeks. For example, Rafael Nadal currently has 7945 points and is slated to play at the Rogers Cup 2019. Since he won this event last year, the 1000 points he gained last year will be dropped when Rogers Cup ends, making it 6945 points. The ranking points he gains at Rogers Cup 2019 will then be added to his tally of 6945 points.
Currently, Nadal stands at 7945 points and Federer at 7460 points. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both announced that they’ll be not playing at the Rogers Cup 2019, making it easier for Rafael Nadal to defend his triumph last year. Also, Federer didn’t take part last year as well so he has no points to defend, whereas Nadal chose to miss Cincinnati last year.
Federer is defending 600 points for his final appearance at the Western and Southern Open 2018, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. Coupled with the fact Nadal is also defending 1000 points at the Rogers Cup gives rise to entertaining scenarios.
Nadal has a straightforward path to hold onto his No. 2 seed. Win at Montreal and he’d surely clinch the second seed.
For Federer to clinch the No. 2 seed, a win at Cincinnati, where he’s a seven-time champion, would get him very close but won’t be enough if Nadal manages to defend his Rogers Cup title. In the unlikely event of Nadal losing in his first match in Montreal, Federer would only need a quarterfinal appearance at Cincinnati.
If Nadal wins his first match, Federer would have to go one step further than his compatriot’s result at the Rogers Cup. The above scenario understandably becomes void if Nadal wins at Montreal.
Everything being said, the above scenarios rest on the assumption that Nadal won’t play Cincinnati like last year. The Spaniard is yet to announce his withdrawal, which he usually takes a call on after Montreal. He was clearly unhappy being bumped down to No. 3 at Wimbledon and would haveve even less to complain about if he drops to No.3 before New York, since the US Open takes the ATP Rankings as the sole metric for seeding. If his knees hold up and there’s a chance at Cincinnati to grab the No.2 seed, he may very well go for it.
Can Any Of Them Become World No. 1?
Certainly not before US Open 2019. Novak Djokovic sits safely at the helm with 12,415 points on the back of his Australian Open and Wimbledon triumphs. However, the Serb is defending a lot of points from now on and a bad run of form may put the World No. 1 spot in contention. That being said, he should back his chances of ending the year as No. 1
What About The Others?
Apart from the big three, Dominic Thiem is the closest with 4595 points but looks unlikely he’ll break into the top three anytime soon. But the seeds 4-8 for the US Open are all up for grabs. Kei Nishikori is playing well and Stefanos Tsitsipas is defending a decent amount of points. Karen Khachanov can do well with a good showing and the Russian Daniil Medvedev can also push his case forward.
While there are a lot of scenarios to be dabbled with, one thing’s certain–it’s going to be an exciting month of August tennis.