The year of 2008 is all but gone and I will take this opportunity to look ahead at 2009 and what it holds for Roger and men’s tennis in general. I think you will agree with me that men’s tennis is going through a pretty exciting period. There is the Roger vs. Rafa rivalry that is still going strong, there is Djokovic who is right on their heels and then there is a new kid on the block called Andy Murray. These four players are all pretty close to each other with Murray the one who has some work to do to really cement his place at the number four spot.
You may have noticed that I keep mainly referring to these four players. This is because I believe they are mainly what the tennis world revolves around at this point and are also the main contenders for the grand slams and other big tournaments on tour. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the men’s game is dull, anything but! I’m just saying that these three or four seems to be a cut above the rest at this moment and therefor deserves most of my attention. This is after all a Federer blog and it’s only about the best!
Having said that there is some great new upstarts in the game who will look to establish an even bigger name for themselves in 2009. Among these are Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France who had a real breakthrough season in 2008 which started by reaching the final match at the Australian Open. He is currently number six in the ATP rankings, an amazing feat if you consider that he was out of action for a good part of the season due to injury. If Tsonga can stay injury free in 2009 he has to be the biggest threat to the top four. France has not had a grand slam winner for a long time, and Tsonga might just be their biggest hope.
Who would have thought with all the promise guys like Gasquet, Monfils and Simon have shown that Tsonga would step up to the plate the way he has. Tsonga might not be the most talented of these players, but he has a will to win, something that is in short supply when it comes to french players. Tennis is all about desire and mental toughness, and it seems Tsonga has plenty of both. Another young upstart is in fact Giles Simon also from France. I’m sure a couple of years or even a year back the french would have expected Gasquet and Monfils to be in the top ten now, not Tsonga and Simon.
But this is how tennis goes. Only the mentally strong will rise to the top, talent is secondary. Simon has shown his mental abilities by winning four matches in the final set tiebreak in the masters series event in Madrid this year, saving several match points along the way. Wow! However the grand slams are a different prospect and it’s yet to be seen if Simon has the temperament to win a slam. Somehow i doubt it. But besides that he also plays a game that is physically very demanding and whether he can win seven best out of five set matches in a row is also doubtful.
Another young player that has made his presence felt in the tennis world is Argentine Juan-Martin Del Potro. He went through a streak during the American hard court season where he won twenty four matches in a row which included four titles! Now that is what i call getting people’s attention! It was only an Andy Murray that was on fire who could stop him from going further then the quarterfinals of the US Open in a tough four set match. All of these three young players I mentioned is currently in the top ten of the ATP rankings, so its clear that there is no shortage of young talent in the men’s game to give the top four some stiff competition.
To be continued…