You may remember a post I made earlier about Rafa the Opportunist after he called for fewer hard court tournaments when he was having problems with his knees. Well he’s back and this time he is slamming the ranking system, reports Yahoo Sport. But this time he’s got the assist from Djokovic, so more credibility this time right? Wrong! We know Djokovic can’t always be taken very seriously, I think I’ve made that pretty clear in a recent post. And if you missed that post then let me explain why he should be the last person slamming the ranking system. Djokovic claims that because he has made three Masters Series finals in a row and won a 250 tournament last week he should not be losing his ranking to Murray.
This coming from someone who was one match away from taking over the number two spot from Roger on two seperate occasions. And it wasn’t like those matches was against tough opponents. On both occasions he pretty much folded under the pressure. The last chance he had was earlier this year when he had to beat Jarkko Nieminen of all people but he lost in straight sets. Murray on the other hand has been knocking hard on the door for the number 3 spot by coming up with consistently good results in the last six months or so. He won two Masters Series events in the American hard court season at the end of last year and made the final of the US Open as well. Then he started 2009 by winning in Doha, Rotterdam, making the final of Indian Wells and winning Miami.
He lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open. So outside of the grand slams he has pretty much been the best player on hard courts for the last six months. And in the grand slams he still had a similar record to Djokovic, only Roger and Rafa did better in the slams. Djokovic on the other hand had a pretty poor end to last year, except for making the semi-finals of the US Open and winning the Master’s Cup. His form was even worse at the start of 2009, withdrawing in the quarter finals of the Australian Open against Roddick after not being fit enough. Well what do you expect after deciding to party over the holidays while your opponent(Roddick) is working so hard that he loses 15 pounds?!
Then in Indian Wells he puts up one of his worst performances yet against Roddick, losing 6-3, 6-2. Granted since then he has made a comeback but really he shouldn’t be complaining. In the last six months or so Murray has won three Masters Series(1000 points) titles, two 500 events and one 250 event. Djokovic won the Masters Cup(600 points), a 500 and a 250 event. In none of those events did he have to face either Roger or Rafa, while Murray on the other hand beat Rafa two times and Roger four times since Madrid last year. Djokovic has also lost his last three meetings against Murray starting at Canada last year. I could go into more detail but I think by now it should be pretty clear that Murray deserves the number 3 ranking more then Djokovic.
You could say Djokovic has been having a better clay court season then Murray, but this ranking change has been a long time coming. Besides you don’t want to know who was the best player one to two years ago, which is what you’ll get if if you use the ranking system that Rafa and Djokovic are proposing. And you don’t want the rankings to give too much of a short term reflection either, which is what you’ll get if everyone goes to zero points at the end of the year for instance. I think the current system is fair enough and once again Rafa is trying to buy time, while Djokovic is just being a cry baby. Djokovic calling the ranking system of tennis cruel reminds me of a baby throwing it’s toys out of the pram after not getting it’s way.
Rafa’s comments on the other hand makes me think of someone whose just looking after their own interests and doesn’t care much about the rest of the tour. Just because you are number one and you want to prolong your career because you are a grinder does not mean the whole tour wants the same thing. I didn’t see Roger making any demands like this when he was number one. This makes me wonder how well Rafa is dealing with the pressures of being number one. There certainly is a lot of pressure coming with the position and looking back now I think Roger did a terrific job. He was really a great ambassador for the game. Rafa’s results have been fantastic of course, but I’m just wondering if the pressure is just starting to get to him.
First it was all these complaints about Madrid being before the French Open and now this. Anyway time will tell just how well he deals with the pressures of the number 1 spot and whether it will start to affect his game. As for the rest of the top four it will be interesting to see how things develop in the coming months. Murray and Djokovic isn’t too far behind Roger so he will be feeling the pressure as well. But in the end we have to keep perspective. There may never be a perfect ranking system but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the titles, and to be more specific the big titles. I don’t think Roger would care too much about the rankings as long as he feels like he can win grand slam titles. The day he decides to call it a day the titles will be the main consideration, not so much the rankings.
Ps. The point of this post is not to bash Rafa or Djokovic, I respect Rafa and I like Djokovic’s game. But as always I strive to tell the truth.