Now that Roger has secured the year end number one ranking for the fifth time in his career, lets look at what exactly that means. Since the introduction of the ATP ranking system in 1973, only one other man, Ivan Lendl, has been able to reclaim his year end number one spot after having lost it. Not Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John Mcenroe, Pete Sampras, or any of the other greats could achieve that feat. It is one thing to lose the number one ranking and reclaim the spot again for a few weeks, but being year end number one again is another. When players start losing their grip on the number one ranking, it tends to be permanent. Being at the top of the tennis world is of course no easy feat, because you are chased by everyone.
When the number one ranking is lost, a player tends to lose their invincible edge and it’s very hard to become invincible again. After Roger lost the number one ranking to Rafa in 2008, it appeared that he had definitely lost his edge over the rest of the field, and many thought that Roger would never return to number one again. Rafa on the other hand had his best year yet in 2008, winning two grand slam titles in a year for the first time, as well as the Olympic Gold. And what is more, is that he dealt Roger devastating blows when he crushed him in the French Open final, after which he broke Roger’s five year reign at Wimbledon. As if that wasn’t enough, Rafa was back at it again when he brought Roger to his knees(and tears) in the Australian Open final of 2009.
It seemed like the once utterly dominant Swiss was brought to his knees for good, as things continued to get worse for him in 2009. Yet he somehow managed to find the spark to come back to life, as he returned the favor by bringing that man Rafa to his knees in the final of Madrid. After this defeat Rafa was never the same again, whereas up to that point he was still pretty much untouchable. After that things went from bad to worse for the Spaniard, whereas the Swiss was going from strength to strength. Roger won the French Open and Wimbledon, and in doing so he found his edge over the rest of the field once more. He reclaimed the number one spot not long after Wimbledon, and has now kept the spot long enough to be crowned world tour champion for a fifth time.
Only Pete Sampras has managed to achieve that feat more times at six years. At the moment Roger is tied with Jimmy Connors for the second most year end number one spots. As far as the most weeks at number one is concerned, Roger is now at number four on the list behind Sampras, Lendl and Connors. However, as far as most consecutive weeks at the number one spot goes, Roger is way out in front. Roger spent a total of 237 consecutive weeks at the number one spot, while the second player on that list, Connors, only managed 160 weeks. This record of Roger is testament to just how dominant he was. No player in history was as dominant as Roger when he was at his peak. As far as longevity goes, Sampras is still out in front, but that is meaningless as Roger’s career isn’t finished.
To become number one on the list of the most weeks spent at number one, Roger has to remain in the number one spot until after of the French Open next year. And who would bet against him doing just that? I don’t see anyone who is ready to overtake Roger in the rankings any time soon. Rafa is a shadow of what he was and looks like he could slip down the rankings soon. Djokovic is having a good end to the year, but I don’t think he is going to win the Masters Cup. Then next year in Australia it is yet to be seen if he can get into the physical shape necessary to deal with the scorching heat Down Under. I guess at the French Open there is a chance Roger could get passed, since he is the defending champ and Djokovic and Rafa doesn’t have many points to defend.
We will just have to see, but I am feeling very positive about Roger for next year. I think Roger is going to win the Masters Cup just to send a message to the rest of the field that he is still the undisputed kind of the ATP rankings. The year of 2009 has been yet another very dominant year for Roger, and if he wins the Masters Cup it will underscore that fact nicely. No one will have any doubts as to his is still the big daddy going into 2010, and Roger will be the favorite to add another Australian Open title to his resume. I just don’t see anyone challenging Roger’s dominance yet. Delpo is probably the closest, even though he is still at number five in the rankings. If he remains reasonably healthy I think he will keep working his way up the rankings in 2010.
Since Rafa is a shadow of his former self, I think Delpo is the one guy that can trouble Roger, as he has shown in the US Open final. Whatever the case may be, I think it’s awesome how Roger just keeps putting the younger generation in their place. I mean lets be honest, guys like Djokovic, Rafa and Murray can play a little. It can’t be easy to keep these guys at bay, yet Roger does it time after time. Of course Roger plays against Delpo today, which should be another very interesting encounter. Roger takes a 6-1 head-to-head record into the match, but of course Delpo won that epic five set US Open final. I still feel like Roger let that one slip, so I’m hoping he can put yet another youngster firmly back in his place.
It won’t be easy though, as Delpo will be getting back to his best now after a hard fought win over Verdasco. Having said that, Roger isn’t exactly short on confidence himself right now. This will be an interesting match that’s for sure. Until tomorrow then, when I’ll be back with a review of the match, as well as news on what else has been transpiring at the Masters Cup.