© Ella Ling

Roger Federer out

"Federer will never be number one again"


Novak Djokovic has it. Rafael Nadal has his eyes on it again. Roger Federer wants it back and Andy Murray thinks he can get it. The stunning weekend of tennis at the Australian Open is still fresh in the mind but what happens over the next couple of months could go a long way to deciding the destination of the world number one ranking.

Now with Djokovic sitting pretty at the top and seemingly as unstoppable as he was in the first nine months of last year, it might seem a little optimistic to think that there will actually be a battle for it all.

But one thing that may have gone overlooked in Melbourne is that the gap between Djokovic and Nadal actually closed after the fortnight, because the Spaniard improved on his quarter-final showing from 2011.

So now there is a “mere” 2,800 points or so between the top two and because of the way the ranking system works, if Djokovic doesn’t earn as many points in the next few months as he did in 2011, then he’ll start to fall.

Since he won Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Belgrade, it’s not going to be easy to stay clear and even though Nadal was beaten in the final of four of those events by Djokovic, he will still have the chance to gain.

So too Federer, who did not reach a final in 2011 until the French Open and Murray, who earned almost no points in Indian Wells and Miami.

In the men’s game, unless you win absolutely everything else, being number one usually comes with winning at least one grand slam title so Nadal, Federer and Murray will almost certainly need to do that.

No one enjoys all the trappings of being number one as much as Federer and he believes he can get back there. But Ivan Ljubicic, one of the Swiss’s closest friends on tour, does not think that at 30, it’s possible.

The Croat said the need for the very top players to recharge their batteries by taking the odd break during the season means that it’s unlikely that Federer will enter the number of tournaments required to earn enough points to make it to the top.

“One thing the top players should realise is that nobody’s going to give them points for free,” he told The Tennis Space. “This is a brutal sport and that’s the way it should be.

“That’s the reason why Roger will never be number one (again) in my opinion. He still might win slams. He used his best times in the best possible way and I don’t think he should be moaning now: ‘I wish I could be number one at 35’. That cannot happen.”

And what of Murray? It was back in August last year, having won the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, that the Scot mentioned the number one ranking as a realistic target and he repeated his feelings after going so close to beating Djokovic in Melbourne. “Being number one is one of my goals this year and I will try my best to do it,” he said.

Instead of thinking of the year in January-December terms, Murray reasons that if he performs as well or better than everyone for the 12 months from that Cincinnati triumph then he will be number one.

The logic is flawless and the figures actually make for good reading. Since and including the points won in Cincinnati, here are the respective totals earned by the top four:

Djokovic         5160
Federer          4725
Murray           4620
Nadal            3540

Nadal, doubtless, will start mopping up his usual points on clay and by about May there could be very little between any of the top four. As Djokovic goes for the “Novak slam” at the French Open, we could also have a nice battle for the number one spot too.

It is interesting to note who is and who isn’t playing for their countries in the Davis Cup first round ties next weekend. Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have all cried off – Nadal says he’s not playing at all this year – but Federer is leading Switzerland against the USA.

Now Federer has dipped in and out of the competition over the years but with the Olympics a huge goal for him this year, he will also be giving the Davis Cup a good go as well.

A Davis Cup victory is the only thing missing from his glittering CV so expect him to go all out for the title this year. With Nadal missing, it could be his big chance.

Thanks to @gbtennis for his help with the number-crunching.


  • http://twitter.com/ShankTennis Steve

    Murray’s numbers look pretty good but I’ll be surprised if he wins as many points on clay this year.

    His draws on the surface last year were an absolute cakewalk, especially at Roland Garros where he beat Troicki and Chela to reach the semi-final.

    He played well in defeats to Nadal and Djokovic in Monte Carlo and Rome but the only other time he ran into a top 15 clay courter, he got destroyed by Bellucci in Madrid.

    In a one off match I’d have a hard time picking Murray over the likes of Bellucci, Almagro, Berdych and Wawrinka. Never mind the big three, Soderling and Ferrer.

    • Scambers

      It will be interesting to see the effect Ivan Lendl has on Murray’s clay-court performances. Lendl told me in Melbourne that there is no reason why Andy can’t win the French Open. Now wouldn’t that be something special?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kavignar-Vaidha/100001679904462 Kavignar Vaidha

    Djokovic patiently waited for a long period at World # 3 spot, bdding his time, as Federer (consistently) & Nadal (now and then) were dominating the top 2 spots.  A Grand Slam   When almost all and sundry are “claiming” that Federer will not be able to win another Slam and could never become World No. 1 again [since he has to face / beat Djokovic and Nadal in due course of a tournament], how come Murray started thinking that he can become # 1??!!!!  Federer defeated both Djokovic (FO SF) and Nadal (ATP WTF), which means he still has the enough fire power.  The possibility of Federer reclaiming the # 1 spot, inspite of the long gap between his points and the top 2, is more than Andy Murray – the choker in Grand Slams.

    Just consider these seriously :

    1)  Djokovic won many of the tournaments in 2011 and has to defend too many points and as such, he has to compulsorily play and win all the tours.  Are we sure that he will not be exhausted earlier than last year?
    2)  Nadal was the runner up to Djokovic at many tournaments last year.  He too has to compulsorily reach the final and has to win to overtake Djoker.  Nadal, with his violent and brutal style of playing, certainly prone to injury.  Remember he played with some bandage in his knees throughout the Australian Open 2012.
    3)  Andy Murray too is similar to Nadal and it is obvious that the way his plays will make him miss some tournaments due to injury.  More over, he is a clear choker in crucial Grand Slam matches.  Count him out.

    Federer, remains always fit and fresh.  His smooth and effortless way of always playing Tennis makes him the only fittest top player who can be expected to perform consistently.  Taking advantage of his recent defeats, many “EXPERTS” are invoking the age factor.  Touch your heart and tell.  Did you see any sign of age in Federer during Australian Open 2012?  He defeated the big serving Karlovic and much hyped come-back boy Del Potro very comfortably.  Hence, Federer is not a player to be completely written off.

    • Geoff Debbie

      Murray is not a choker, that match in oz proves it, we will see who gets what in the slams the rest of the year, Fed hasn’t won a slam for two years , it would not be able to play the brutal tennis murray Djoko and Nadal played in oz no way,

    • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

      The way most people calculate how the number one is determined by the end of the year is flawed.
      The easiest, and most realistic way of calculating it, it’s merely assuming that everybody starts at 0, at the end of this year (when the winner of this season is declared), those will be their actual points. This is the score card as of 31/03/2012

      1. Roger Federer: 2,820
      2. Novak Djokovic: 2,540
      3. Rafael Nadal: 1,800
      4. David Ferrer: 1,405
      5. Juan Martín del Potro: 1,315
      6. Andy Murray: 1,280
      7. Tomas Berdych: 1,010
      8. Milos Raonic: 975
      9. John Isner: 910
      10. Nicolas Almagro: 850.

      (ATP’s rankings: race to london)

      I.e. Roger Federer is winning the race to become number one at the end of the year, closely followed by Djokovic. Nadal should improve now that the clay bit of the year is about to start.

  • Nks130573

    The only good thing in tennis is that numbers never lie.Everyone is ranked accordingly.
    Fact is , Federer is only going to get older and weaker ,suprize is that he is in 3rd  place too.
    But, hey
    Dream on ,people believe in manny things that make no sense.

    • Mmnperera


    • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

      The way most people calculate how the number one is determined by the end of the year is flawed.

      The easiest, and most realistic way of calculating it, it’s merely assuming that everybody starts at 0, at the end of this year (the one who is declared the winner of the season) those will be their actual points, this is the scored card as of 31/03/2012

      1. Roger Federer: 2,820
      2. Novak Djokovic: 2,5403. Rafael Nadal: 1,8004. David Ferrer: 1,4055. Juan Martín del Potro: 1,3156. Andy Murray: 1,2807. Tomas Berdych: 1,0108. Milos Raonic: 9759. John Isner: 91010. Nicolas Almagro: 850.(ATP’s rankings race to london)I.e. Roger Federer is winning the race to become number one at the end of the year, closely followed by Djokovic. Nadal should improve now that the clay bit of the year is about to start.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DYYVJROO7D643JQIMTZCW7X6QQ Eduardo

    And Now, gys, what you think about Federer and n.1?

  • Flipdekip

    What a stupid title! Federer will be never number one again? Respect to one of the best players (if not the best) all time. Others of this time don’t even come close to the number one all time. End of story.

  • Ana

    Let´s just wait and see, I do believe the title is a little bit harsh. Never say never.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/227LGPSI75X3DNG2V6VKIF2EBY Flash

    Mr. Simon Cambers. you can kill yourself now.  He just beat Murray and regains number one.

  • Ana

    Like i said, never say never! There you go! 

  • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

    I commented here before and explained why you were wrong, and how Federer was at the top to become number 1 this year. How does it feel to have been crushed?

  • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

    I commented not so long ago how you were wrong, and explained you Federer was first in the race to become number 1, I was right of course.

    Eat your words, and please, don’t ever comment about tennis again.

  • Futuramaishot

    what an ass…guess what just happened Mr. Smartypants